The UK government has proposed revisions to the UK merger control regime concerning artificial intelligence (AI).

If enacted, these proposals are expected to result in greater intervention by the UK government, particularly in the context of acquisitions and investments involving non-UK companies.

Under the proposals, transactions where the target business (the "Relevant Enterprise") undertakes certain activities relating to artificial intelligence would be subject to the following jurisdictional thresholds:

  • the annual UK turnover of the Relevant Enterprise exceeds £1 million; or
  • pre-transaction, the Relevant Enterprise supplied or procured goods or services of a particular description, and had a share of supply or procurement of at least 25% of all of those goods or services in the UK, or in a substantial part of the UK.

This would mean that where it is or may be the case that a transaction satisfies these jurisdictional thresholds, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (the "CMA") would be able to investigate on competition grounds, and the Secretary of State ("SoS") would be able to intervene if it considers that the transaction may raise public interest considerations in relation to national security. If the SoS was to intervene, it would replace the CMA as the decision-maker in relation to the transaction.

For a fuller discussion of this and other aspects of the proposals, see UK merger control: greater scope for government intervention.

Orignally published 29 June 2020.

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