Answer ... The merger control regime in India is relatively nascent compared to those of other mature jurisdictions, as it came into effect on 1 June 2011. In the past eight years, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has had to deal with complex merger control matters, which has added to its steep learning curve. The CCI has expedited the review of transactions concerning bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, so that the strict timelines envisaged under India’s insolvency laws are complied with.
In terms of recent trends, the CCI, through case law and amendments to the Combination Regulations, has set out a test for ‘strategic acquisitions’ or ‘acquisitions not solely for investment’ which has lowered the threshold for ‘control’ to ‘material influence’. This dilution of its earlier definition of ‘control’ could trigger a requirement to notify transactions which confer no competitively relevant influence.
Further, between 2014 and 2016, the CCI initiated a number of suo motu inquiries into transactions which were not notified, resulting in the imposition of fines. The CCI has recently recommenced this practice of inquiring into such transactions and this is likely to be the trend moving forward.
The government of India has set up a Competition Law Review Committee to review and propose amendments to the Competition Act, rules and regulations. It is expected that the government will shortly amend the Competition Act based on the committee’s suggested reforms.