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CCI approvals for M&As may be fast-tracked


  • The government panel’s report did not offer relief to e-commerce firms hit by the curbs placed on them last year
  • The panel also said that M&As arising from restructuring of bankrupt companies under the bankruptcy code are also eligible for faster clearance

New Delhi: A government panel on antitrust regulation has recommended faster clearances for mergers and acquisitions that do not stifle competition, but is silent on the curbs placed on e-commerce companies last year.

The competition law review committee, led by corporate affairs secretary Injeti Srinivas, on Wednesday submitted the recommendations on revamping antitrust regulation to Nirmala Sitharaman, who heads the ministry. An official statement said the panel has proposed “a green channel" for quicker clearance of a “vast majority of M&As that may have no major concerns regarding appreciable adverse effects on competition".

It also said that M&As arising from restructuring of bankrupt companies under the bankruptcy code are also eligible for faster clearance.

The move is part of the Narendra Modi administration’s efforts to cut red tape and improve ease of doing business, while the industry is grappling with an economic slowdown. However, the report did not offer any relief to e-commerce companies hit by the restrictions placed on them last year that effectively took away some of the appeal they enjoyed among consumers over traditional retailers. The commerce and industry ministry had in December banned online retailers such as Flipkart and Amazon from selling products of companies in which they owned stakes and disallowed them from entering into exclusive deals for merchandise.

The panel, the report of which has been made public, recommended an overhaul of the way the watchdog, Competition Commission of India (CCI), works. It suggested that the office of the director general (DG), which probes suspected anti-competitive practices, be merged with CCI as an independent department within it. At present, the DG’s office functions separately.

“The committee focused on furthering ease of doing business, encouraging startups and meeting the challenges of the new economy," the official statement said. It also suggested ranking states on the basis of competitiveness of their laws and policies. It also proposed setting up a dedicated bench of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal to hear appeals on competition-related disputes.

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