Canada: Canadian Competition Bureau Unveils Revised Merger Review Process Guidelines And Filing Requirements

The Canadian Competition Bureau recently unveiled draft new Guidelines for The Revised Merger Review Process, as well as a proposed Regulation Amending the Notifiable Transactions Regulations1. Both documents are in draft form, with comments requested by May 29, 2009 in the case of the draft Guidelines, and by June 3, 20092 in the case of the proposed Regulation. The sudden implementation of a U.S.-style two-stage merger review process on March 12, 2009  left the Bureau rushing to update the filing requirements, not least because the current Regulation speaks of a choice between a short-form and a long-form notification that no longer exists. The Bureau's draft process Guidelines seek to answer questions concerning "supplementary information requests," the equivalent of so-called "second requests" for documents and information in the United States. The issuance of such a request triggers the second stage of merger review and suspends the waiting period while the parties supply the additional information requested.

Among other things, the proposed amendments to the Notifiable Transactions Regulations set out the new uniform merger filing requirements, which essentially will mandate the filing of a "short form" notification plus documents in all cases. A "short-form" notification currently requires, along with certain basic information about the parties and the transaction, lists of the top twenty customers and suppliers for the principal products of each party and its affiliates with significant business in or with Canada. After coming into force (likely in summer 2009), the amended Regulation will also require the filing of two categories of documents:

  1. legal documents that are to be used to implement the proposed transaction (or the most recent drafts thereof); and
  2. studies, surveys, analyses and reports prepared or received by a senior officer for the purpose of evaluating or analysing the proposed transaction with respect to "market shares, competition, competitors, markets, potential for sales growth or expansion into new products or geographic regions."

The latter requirement is virtually identical to specification 4(c) of the merger notification form used in the United States3. These types of documents were previously required to be filed in Canada only as part of a long-form notification, but will now be required in all cases where formal notification is made. How many transactions this will affect remains to be seen, however, as the vast majority of notifiable transactions in Canada do not raise any serious competition issues and have in the past been the subject of requests for advance ruling certificates (ARCs) rather than formal notifications. It is not yet known whether the Bureau will now expect the so-called "4(c)" documents to accompany ARC requests - even in cases involving no or trivial competitive overlap. Doing so would significantly increase the regulatory compliance burden for the majority of notifiable transactions in Canada, arguably with little or no benefit to those reviewing such routine transactions.

The more controversial of the two draft documents, however, is likely to be the draft Guidelines for the The Revised Merger Review Process. The Guidelines seek to outline the Bureau's approach to the new two-stage merger review process generally, and to "supplementary information requests" in particular. As described in the Guidelines, the Act now provides for an initial 30-day waiting period, during which the majority of mergers will be reviewed (and during which the transaction may not be completed). For transactions where further review is required, the Act authorizes the Bureau to issue a "supplementary information request" which extends the waiting period for an additional 30 days from the date the requested information is supplied.

Second requests issued by the Bureau's counterparts in the United States are infamous for the time, money and managerial resources that must be expended in order to comply, and for the exhaustive scope of the information required. The American Bar Association revealed in 2007 that for 23 transactions for which information had been gathered, the total cost of complying with a second request had averaged over US$5 million (median US$3.3 million) and that agency review had taken about seven months (both average and median) to complete4. Competition Bureau Officials in Canada have sought to allay fears over the potential adoption of a comparable approach in Canada. That said, the draft Guidelines seem implicitly to confirm the Bureau's intention to adopt the basic premise of U.S. second requests, which is that before allowing the waiting period to expire, the agencies will require the production of e-mails and other documents generated or received over a two- to three-year period by those in positions of authority concerning the overlap products - whether probative or not.

The Canadians propose to limit the search to a maximum of 30 custodians in most cases (the ABA letter referred to above revealed that an average of 126 custodians and a median of 94 were required to be searched in the sample of second requests surveyed), and to engage in pre- and post-issuance dialogue in order to avoid, or at least narrow, the scope of a Canadian second request. The draft Guidelines also discuss internal controls on the scope and issuance of second requests, and outline internal "appeal" procedures parties may follow if they object to the scope of a second request.

Implicit throughout the Guidelines, however, is the assumption that - within 30 days of being notified of a proposed transaction that raises serious competition issues - the Bureau will demand production not only of the  information most relevant to its analysis (as was previously its practice with the issuance of relatively targeted information requests or court orders, typically much later in the process), but of all information that could potentially be relevant in any way to eventual litigation of the case. As such, it would appear that despite limiting the scope of second requests as compared to its U.S. counterparts, the burden that the Competition Bureau will place on parties to transactions that raise complex competition issues in Canada (and who wish eventually to see the waiting period expire) is about to undergo a quantum leap.

The Guidelines also indicate that, consistent with the practice in the United States, the Bureau will be open to identifying the most important information it requires on key issues, and to working through the issues and potentially clearing the transaction before the full scope of the information requested in the second request is actually produced. While parties may in some cases have their transactions cleared without fully complying with a second request, not all parties will be able easily to reach agreement with the Bureau on required remedies. For such transactions, the cost of reaching the position where the Bureau must go to the Competition Tribunal and prove a prima facie case in order to further delay the transaction may now be very high indeed.

As noted above, comments are requested in respect of the draft Guidelines by May 29, 2009, and in respect of the draft amendments to the Regulations by June 3, 2009.


1. Canada Gazette Part I, April 4, 2006.

2. Bill C-10, The Budget Implementation Act, 2009, received Royal Assent on March 12, 2009. In addition to measures designed to stimulate the Canadian economy, Bill C-10 included sweeping reforms to the Competition Act and the Investment Canada Act. Please see the March, 2009 issue of The Competitor for details.

3. The language in Item 4(c) of the Hart Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 reads "all studies, surveys, analyses and reports which were prepared by or for any officer(s) or director(s) (or, in the case of unincorporated entities, individuals exercising similar functions) for the purpose of evaluating or analyzing the acquisition with respect to market shares, competition, competitors, markets, potential for sales growth or expansion into product or geographic markets. . ."

4. Letter to the Antitrust Modernization Commission dated February 22, 2007 from the Section of Antitrust Law of the American Bar Association re: Data Regarding the Burden of Responding to HSR Second Request Investigations (available on-line).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions