Keidanren urges simpler merger, acquisition rules

The procedures for corporate mergers and acquisitions should be simplified so companies can keep up with rapid changes in the global environment by reorganizing their corporate structure, according to an economic advisory group.In its report released Jan. 28, the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) urged the government to curtail excessive administrative intervention aimed at avoiding monopolies and shift to a policy under which all mergers are approved unless there is clear evidence that they will inhibit competition. The report calls for the abolition of a rule that obligates companies to apply for a merger in certain cases, such as when a merger is formed between companies among the same business group or between firms whose combined assets are less than 10 billion yen.It also proposes that in examining possible merger cases, the Fair Trade Commission should take into consideration a variety of factors rather than focusing on the domestic market share of the merging firms. Currently, the FTC puts a possible merger case under a special strict examination when the combined domestic market share of the merging firms in a certain product or service sector exceeds 25 percent.The report stresses that a decision should be based on other factors as well, such as the firms’ position in the global marketplace, the possibility of foreign entries into the intended domestic market, or the possible improvement in efficiency of the firms’ business.