Under new rules entering into force on 17 April 2020, the timeline for phase 1 merger review is extended. Merging partiers now also face the risk of further extensions after a merger filing has been submitted.
In response to the Covid-19 lockdown in Norway, a new Act has been passed to change various procedural competition rules. The act, which took effect immediately after approval on 17 April, provides for extensions of a number of deadlines set out in the Norwegian Competition Act.
The act extends phase 1 merger review from up to 25 business days to up to 40 business days (i.e. eight weeks plus any bank holidays).
The act also empowers the Government to pass regulations further extending the review deadline. Going forward, merging partiers face the risk of further extensions after a merger filing has been submitted.
Parties involved in M&A transactions triggering a merging filing in Norway should consider the risk of delays in the transaction planning, including in the drafting of relevant agreements.
The act remains in force until 31 October 2020.
The Norwegian Competition Authority may exceptionally and on a case-by-case basis grant exemptions from the general standstill obligation applicable to mergers. The threshold is high, but this option may be available in cases where the target business is in financial distress.
The extension of the phase 1 merger review timeline should be a relevant factor in the authority’s assessment of exemption requests going forward.
The full next of the act is available here (in Norwegian).