China cracks down on failure to file reportable M&A deals

Over the past year and a half, the review procedure before China's merger control authority – the Ministry of Commerce ("MOFCOM") – has become more streamlined, and faster, in many instances. Since the introduction of the "simple case" review system in February 2014, many transactions that do not raise major issues have benefited from less far-reaching document production obligations, and have been cleared in a considerably shorter period of time compared to the situation before. Following a very recent internal reshuffle at MOFCOM's Anti-Monopoly Bureau, the number of case teams and handlers working on a transaction has decreased, which may lead to further efficiencies and faster approvals.

Largely in parallel to this process, another development in Chinese merger control has occurred: MOFCOM is increasingly focusing on transactions which were not reported despite meeting the filing criteria. This focus became apparent last year when MOFCOM announced it would make public all "failure to file" decisions, sanctioning companies for breaching the Anti-Monopoly Law ("AML"), from May 2014 onwards.

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