The Fair Trade Commission said July 3 it will ease restrictions on company mergers and stock acquisitions, effectively halving the number of cases in which firms are required to report to authorities.

The commission plans to submit a bill to the Diet during the next regular session to begin making necessary changes to the Antimonopoly Law in January, an FTC official said. The move is in line with a report compiled by an advisory body to the commission, she said.

The report calls for substantially easing the current system, which requires Japanese companies with 2 billion yen or more in total assets to submit reports on its shareholdings each year. Instead, the report recommends that a company with 10 billion yen or more in assets be required to file an ex post facto report only when its shareholding in a certain company exceeds three key levels: 10 percent, 25 percent and 50 percent.

The same rule should apply to foreign companies, which are now required to annually file a shareholding report regardless of the scale of total assets, the report says. The report recommends that mergers that would not affect competition conditions, such as a parent company absorbing its own affiliate or a merger between affiliates, would not have to be reported to authorities. It also calls for improving screening procedures for mergers by allowing the FTC to extend a screening period by up to around 120 days when it deems it necessary.

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