Major Amendments to the Israeli Antitrust Law
The Israeli parliament has approved major changes to the Israeli antitrust law:
- The revenues-based threshold of the requirement to provide notice regarding merger transactions to the antitrust commissioner, and to obtain the commissioner's consent for the transaction prior to its consummation, was amended such that the aggregate annual revenues of at least two of the merging parties which trigger the notice will now be NIS 360 million (as opposed to NIS 150 million until now).
- The definition of a "monopoly" which was based on a person's having a market share which is greater than 50% in the purchase or supply of a product or service, was extended to include "a person holding a significant market power with respect to the supply or purchase of goods or services". In the explanatory notes attached to the bill of amendment, it was noted that a "market power" enables the person holding it to influence the market price and other factors which are normally set in a competitive market by the market forces.
- It should be noted that the new definition of a "monopoly" was excluded from the market-based thresholds which trigger the merger notice requirements (a monopoly prior to, or as a result of, the relevant transaction), and these will continue to apply only with respect to the market-share-based definition of a monopoly.
- The timing for approving merger notices by the antitrust commissioner remains 30 days, but this term can now be extended by up to 120 days (subject to the provision of a written reasoned notice to the parties).
- The initial timing for approving exemptions for restrictive arrangements by the antitrust commissioner was shortened from 90 to 30 days, but this term too can be extended by up to 120 days (subject to the provision of a written reasoned notice to the parties).
- The liability of officers in a corporation was exacerbated such that an officer (a manager or the person in charge of a certain field in a corporation) will now be liable for an antitrust breach by the corporation or one of its employees, unless they can show that they took all necessary steps in order to supervise and prevent the breach.
- The antitrust commissioner's authority to impose administrative fines on a corporation in connection with breaches of the antitrust law, was increased from NIS 24.5 million to NIS 100 million (and in any case no more than 8% of the corporation's annual turnover).
- The potential prison terms and fines for parties to a restrictive arrangement which was not duly approved (or exempted) were significantly increased.
- In addition to the above, the official names of the antitrust law, the antitrust commissioner and the antitrust tribunal were changed from the "restrictive trade practices law" (/ commissioner / tribunal) to the "economic competition law", the "commissioner of competition" and the "competition tribunal".
- The amendment has yet to be officially published (and as of now the previous version of the law still prevails).
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