The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) announced on Sunday the launch of a new ex-ante merger control regime, effective June 1, 2024. The regime introduces stricter oversight of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in Egypt, aiming to promote a more competitive business environment.

The new regulations, as per Law No. 175 of 2022 and subsequent amendments to the Executive Regulations issued by the Prime Minister’s Decree No. 1120 of 2024, grant ECA the authority to review proposed M&A transactions before they are completed. This is a significant departure from the previous ex-post regime, where the ECA could only review mergers after they had been finalised.

In a press conference, ECA Chairperson, Mahmoud Momtaz, highlighted the regime’s potential to attract domestic and foreign investment, stimulate economic growth, and enhance consumer welfare. He emphasised that the new rules would not apply to new projects and investments, focusing instead on existing businesses and companies.

Momtaz stated, “The ex-ante merger control regime contributes to attracting domestic and foreign investments, removing barriers to market entry and expansion.” He added that the regime aligns with international best practices, already in place in over 135 countries worldwide.

The new regulations detail the methodology for calculating annual turnover, fee categories, required documentation for notification, and responsible parties for notifying economic concentrations. They also outline the assessment criteria for economic concentrations’ impact on market competition, considering factors like market structure, competition levels, alternatives for suppliers and consumers, and potential effects on consumers, investments, innovation, and competition freedom.

The ECA has been actively preparing for the regime’s implementation, establishing a specialized department for economic concentrations, developing streamlined workflows, and providing comprehensive guidelines and FAQs in both Arabic and English.

Momtaz explained that the review process would be efficient and transparent, with most cases expected to be completed within the Phase I review period of 30 working days. Simplified procedures would be in place for economic concentrations with a limited impact on market structure, requiring shorter review periods and a brief notification file.

The ECA has also held several discussions with market players to clarify key provisions and address queries regarding economic concentration control. Further sessions are planned for the near future, and the ECA is receiving inquiries and requests for pre-notification discussions via the designated email address,

The ECA’s experience in ex-ante merger control, particularly in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors, and its active review of notifications for mergers and acquisitions in COMESA countries, positions it well to effectively implement the new regime.

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