On 26 January 2024, China issued significantly higher merger filing turnover-based thresholds, with immediate effect. Notably, China has removed a hybrid threshold proposed in the June 2022 draft, which was based on both revenue and market value of target companies and purported to target high-value “killer” acquisitions.
On 24 June 2022, China’s National Peoples’ Congress approved far reaching amendments to China’s Anti-Monopoly Law which become effective from 1 August 2022 (“AML Amendments”).
Alongside the AML Amendments, the State Administration for Market Regulation has issued for public comment proposed updates to key implementing rules and regulations concerning cartels and vertical restraints, abuse of dominance, merger control and abuse of IP rights.
Of particular relevance to business operations in China and M&A activity, the AML Amendments include stricter penalties for antitrust violations; increased enforcement powers; revised thresholds for merger control; an express prohibition of hub & spoke arrangements; potential exemptions/defenses for certain vertical restraints including resale price maintenance, and continued scrutiny of the platform economy.
The Supreme People’s Court has identified certain relevant factors when assessing such agreements from an antitrust perspective. The Chinese entity of a multinational medical device manufacturer was fined RMB 9.12 million for RPM, representing 3% of its 2020 total China-wide revenue. The antitrust authority will be stepping up oversight over the platform economy, technology development, data security and livelihood sectors such as utilities, healthcare and medicine.