M&A reviews to be given new fast-track procedure

Updated: 2011-12-28 07:35

By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)

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Transparency 'will be improved' amid growing number of deals

BEIJING - The assessment of merger and acquisition (M&A) proposals will be fast-tracked to facilitate an increase in deals next year, the Ministry of Commerce said.

Shang Ming, director of the ministry's anti-monopoly bureau, said the sluggish global economy had slowed down outright expansion by companies and pushed them to boost sales by M&As.

Plans by global companies to expand quickly in China have also contributed to the increasing number of M&A cases, Shang said.

"M&A cases have increased at a rapid pace this year so we are studying how to improve our methods and work efficiency next year to shorten procedures," Shang said at a media briefing.

"China will also try to amend relevant articles of the law" to improve transparency and fairness, he said.

The ministry had received 194 applications for M&As between January and mid-December, up 43 percent from a year earlier, he said. Nearly two-thirds of the cases are in manufacturing.

The ministry had finished vetting 160 cases, with 94 percent approved, Shang said. The number of finished cases surged by 40 percent from a year earlier and doubled from 2009.

No discrimination

Shang also rejected criticism that China used its anti-monopoly legislation to unfairly block the expansion of foreign and private firms.

"Chinese antitrust law treats all firms equally and fairly, no matter who they are, State-owned enterprises, private companies or foreign firms," he told reporters.

Shang made the remarks in response to overseas claims that China has taken advantage of the anti-monopoly law, which came into force in 2008, to protect its own industries by either turning down proposed M&A cases or approving the cases with conditions attached.

One example often cited by critics was the ministry's rejection of Coca-Cola's proposed acquisition of China's top domestic juice maker Huiyuan for $2.5 billion in 2008.

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