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Breaking: AZB, TTA get first ever CCI combination clearance in 18 days for Reliance-Bharti AXA merger

CCI zooms past Go, doesn't skip a turn
CCI zooms past Go, doesn't skip a turn
Exclusive: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has dealt with the first M&A referred to it, clearing within 18 days the proposed takeover by Reliance Industrial Infrastructure of Bharti AXA Life Insurance Company, advised by AZB & Partners and Talwar Thakore Associates respectively.

AZB partner Shuva Mandal is understood to have advised Reliance on the transactional aspects of the deal, with Talwar Thakore Associates partner Kunal Thakore representing Bharti AXA.

The CCI received the notice from Reliance on 8 July and passed its order on 26 July, which was uploaded today.

On 11 July the CCI requested Reliance to to furnish the binding document that triggered the filing requirement under sub-section(2) of Section 6 of the Competition Act, which had not been submitted with the notice. Reliance furnished that document by 15 July, according to the order.

The CCI found that the buyers and the target did not operate in “interchangable or substitutable products” and there was neither “horizontal overlap” in the merger nor a “signficiant vertical relationship found in the proposed combination which could pose any competitive constraints in the life and general insurance business”.

The notification concluded that: “Based on the facts on record and the notice filed by the Acquirers [Reliance] under sub-section (2) of Section 6 of the Act, and the assessment of the proposed combination, the Commission hereby approves the proposed combination in which the Acquirers will directly and indirectly hold seventy four per cent of the share capital in each of the Acquired Enterprise(s) [Bharti AXA] as it is not likely to have an appreciable adverse effect on competition.”

In March the CCI’s long-awaited merger control powers were notified to take effect from 1 June, with the CCI’s latest draft of the rules published in May amidst concerns that the CCI might not be able to keep to its self-imposed limit of clearing the vast majority of referred combinations within 30 days, although the statutory upper limit was 210 days.

AZB Mumbai partner Bahram Vakil commented that the CCI was true to its word and gave its first approval in precisely 10 effective days, excluding weekends and three days when the clock stopped after asking for further information.

“This is most impressive and portends well for the future,” said Vakil.

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