Holding companies move closer

In an attempt to accelerate the process of lifting the ban on holding companies, the Fair Trade Commission on Jan. 29 presented to the ruling coalition the gist of a bill to revise the Antimonopoly Law.Representatives from the three ruling parties — the Liberal Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake — met and discussed the FTC’s proposal, resuming discussions on the issue for the first time since June. The ruling alliance and the government had earlier agreed to introduce a bill to revise the Antimonopoly Law during the current Diet session. The deadline for the submission of nonbudgetary bills is March 11.The FTC is proposing to liberalize the formation of holding companies unless “excessive concentration of power” is feared. If the proposal is accepted, there would be more freedom to form holding companies than originally expected. The FTC had earlier called for lifting the ban on four specific types of holding companies: Small holding companies, financial holding companies, holding companies intended to divide companies and venture capital firms.Although an exact definition of “excessive concentration” has yet to be determined, the FTC is specifying a continued ban on three types of holding companies: Mammoth holding companies that have a major impact on wide areas of the nation’s economy, those under which ordinary companies and major financial institutions are held together and those that dominate a certain industry.