On 30 March 2022 the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine announced issuance of guidance on merger control procedures while the martial law is in effect. Here are the main points of the authority's release made in anticipation of the guidance.
While the martial law is in force the AMC may not be able to review merger and antitrust notifications and issue clearances within the statutory timeframes because of limited access to files and database after moving from Kyiv to Lviv. Some of the governmental registers and databases essential for the AMC’s review and analysis are also unavailable or only partially accessible.
The merger control regime remains in force, but because of the expected delays with the review the AMC's clearances may not always be issued pre-closing. The authority still invites merging parties to file notifications and mentions that some filings have already been submitted remotely to the new AMC's Lviv office. The authority will be accumulating notifications and start the review as soon as it becomes possible.
In the guidance the AMC will limit disclosure requirements and also provide for a possibility to submit notifications electronically and complement such submissions with documents which are not available/deliverable later on – within 3 months after the martial law ceases to apply.
While the guideline does not relieve parties from fines for closing before clearance because of the authority's inability to complete the review within the statutory deadline, those transactions that have no negative effect on competition in Ukraine and have been notified in advance are expected to be treated leniently. The AMC will impose more 'symbolic' fines (capped at around EUR1,500), because full amnesty is not possible under the law (although, we understand that the law may be changed later on to deal with this issue).
The authority is determined to apply the most favourable approach to the parties who duly filed notifications which were then 'backlogged' by the AMC. To those who did not file the AMC will apply fines under the standard procedure. Maximum fines will apply to transactions involving or linked to Russian parties (e.g., such as those designed to circumvent sanctions against Russia, and “quasi” spin-offs of Russian activities to nominal/sham holders). Also, we understand that in such sham spin-offs and circumvention cases fines may be applied not only to acquirers but also to sellers.