On April 20, 2020, the Antitrust Authority issued an abbreviated analysis and control procedure applicable to certain combination transactions.
This expedited procedure, also known as fast-track, is common in most jurisdictions that have an antitrust merger clearance process and generally apply to transactions that either (i) do not imply any change in the market structure – such as a change of control of a local business in favor of a foreign acquirer with no prior participation in the Ecuadorian market-; or, (ii) in which, a priori, the market power resulting from the operation is not significant enough to allow unilateral anticompetitive/abusive behaviors by the combined operator.
The analysis and resolution within a fast-track process must be completed within 25 business days. This term contrasts with the regular process that usually lasts between 4 and 14 months (when remedies apply).
The fast-track process is applicable to the following 6 scenarios:
- When the change of control of the business occurs in favor of a foreign economic operator with no prior economic activity in Ecuador.
- In horizontal combinations (transactions between competitors) where the joint market share of the economic operators involved in the transaction and of their affiliate entities -when applicable- is less than 30% in each relevant market affected by the transaction.
- In horizontal combinations that occur in markets where the Herfindahl-Hirschman index (HHI) before the combination is less than 2,000 points and, as a result of the transaction, the HHI index variation is less than 250 points.
- In vertical combinations (transactions between operators in the same production/marketing chain), where the joint market share of the economic operators involved in the transaction and of their affiliate entities -when applicable- is less than 30% in each relevant market affected by the transaction.
- In vertical combinations where the Herfindahl-Hirschman index (HHI) of each of the vertically integrated markets post-merger is less than 2,000 points.
- In transactions involving one or more economic operators that are at risk of bankruptcy, duly supported and qualified by the Antitrust Authority.
The implementation of the fast-track processis highly positive to facilitate new business opportunities, particularly involving foreign investors. In addition, it contributes to the timely application of the competition regulation in the scope of merger control during the state of emergency deriving from Covid-19.
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