In a boost to M&A deals, the Centre has decided to reduce the time limit of approval of the deals by the Competition Commission to 150 days from the prevailing 210 days.

The government has decided to reject the House Panel recommendation to retain the existing overall time limit of 210 days for the Competition Commission to assess such deals for its approval. 

Instead it has decided to go with the Competition (amendment) Bill proposal of 150 days overall time limit for approving M&A deals, sources privy to the decision said. This is expected to ensure assessment of Combinations become time-bound and quicker.

Currently, the competition law provides an overall time limit of 210 days for CCI approval while keeping the time limit for prima facie approval to “20 working days”. 

The main objective of curtailing the overall time limit is to drive accountability of the CCI and get it to approve M&A deals in a quicker timeline, thereby improving ease of doing business for industry.

The Centre has however decided to give a small relief to CCI and decided to change the time limit for CCI to give prima facie approval to “30 calendar days” from the current provision of “20 working days”. 

The Competition Bill had proposed “20 calendar days” and now the Government has decided to go in for “30 calendar days” and this is expected to be reflected in the slew of amendments that government proposes to bring to the Competition (amendment) Bill 2022 in next few days, sources added.

It maybe recalled that the Competition (amendment) Bill — introduced in Lok Sabha on August 5 last year—had provided reduction in time limit for approval of combinations from 210 days to 150 days and forming a prima facie opinion by the Commission within 20 calendar days for expeditious approval of combinations.

However, the Standing Committee noted that the reduced timelines will put CCI in a difficult and onerous position.  Reducing timelines can be burdensome for an already understaffed CCI, it said. Accordingly, it recommended that “…the current prima facie opinion timelines and that of passing of the order for approval of combinations, should remain unchanged”.