The Finnish Competition Authority supports Government’s proposal to prolong the time limits for merger review due to the COVID-19 crisis

The Finnish Competition Act is amended temporarily. The time limits for merger control proceedings are amended so that the processing time limit for the phase II is extended by 23 working days, allowing a total processing time of up to 116 working days (approximately five months).

In addition to the longer processing time, the Market Court may, under the current legislation, at the request of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority ("FCCA") extend the processing time by 46 working days. This means that the total processing time of a transaction may be as long as approximately seven months.

Pursuant to the Government’s Proposal, the purpose of the amendment is to allow the FCCA a longer processing time as market research has slowed down during the COVID-19 crisis. Correspondingly, in Denmark, the processing time has been extended by 14 days and in Norway by 15 working days.

Contrary to the draft proposal of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the amendment will not apply retroactively to transactions already notified to the FCCA and still pending when the law enters into force. This was changed following criticism from the public consultation. The extension of the phase II investigation period is applicable until 31 October 2020. In addition to the retroactivity issue, the amendment sparked criticism especially with regards to the exceptional length of the extension compared to other countries. Critics also pointed out that the necessity of the extension seems questionable now that the Finnish COVID-19 –related restrictions are being relaxed.

The amendment is due to enter into force on June 20, 2020.

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Päivi Tammilehto, The Finnish Competition Authority supports Government’s proposal to prolong the time limits for merger review due to the COVID-19 crisis, 15 May 2020, e-Competitions May 2020, Art. N° 95459

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