Big news for Big Tech and Small M&A in Germany: Today, the German parliament has adopted an important amendment of the German Antitrust Act (GWB). It introduces in particular novel rules and instruments for the antitrust enforcement against companies in the digital world – hence the name "GWB Digitization Act". It provides a – much debated – new toolbox for the German competition authority (Bundeskartellamt) to act against platforms and to assess network effects.
In addition, the merger control thresholds are being raised, even higher than discussed over the past year. Somewhat surprising, as introduced only on the last day before the adoption, the new rules (Section 35 GWB) trigger a filing obligation where the domestic turnover of one company exceeds EUR 50m (raised from EUR 25m) and the domestic turnover of another company exceeds EUR 17.5m (raised from EUR 5m); as previously, a combined global turnover of the Parties in excess of EUR 500m is also required. The substantial increase of the domestic thresholds will lead to a significant decrease of merger control filings in Germany (some experts predict a decrease by 30-40%). Thus, less burden in many M&A transactions but more time and resources for the Bundeskartellamt to monitor and investigate other market behavior.
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