Merger Review

AuthorJohn S. Tyhurst
C H A P T E R 5
1) Why Review Mergers?
Since 1986, the Competition Act has given the Comm issioner of Com-
petition authority to apply to the Competition Tribunal to block a pro-
posed merger, or to seek to dismantle a completed merger, on the basis
that the merger would be likely to substanti ally prevent or lessen com-
petition.1 The legislative scheme a lso requires parties to any acqui sition2
over def‌ined size thresholds (regardless of it s eect on competition) to
notify the Competition Bureau of the tr ansaction and to provide pre-
scribed inform ation before the merger can be closed.
The applicable legal test is focused on the eects of a merger on
competition. In addition to the eects of a merger on competition, other
policy concerns, such as the impact of foreign invest ment, the eects of
a plant closure on employment, or impacts on minority shareholders,
may be raised. Wh ile these are evidently legitimate consider ations, they
are not the concern of competition law per se,3 although a competit ion-
1 Section 92 of the Competition Act, RSC 1985, c C-34 [Competition Act or Act].
2 As referred to i n s 110 of the Competition Act, ibid, and as prescrib ed in applic-
able regulations.
3 See Chapter 3. In Impe rial Oil, the Tribunal st ated the following:
It is clear th at there is a social value in keepi ng the ref‌inery runn ing. It is
common knowledge th at employment opportunities a re not as numerous
 5.1. , The Toronto Brewin g & Malting Company (from , renamed
Canadian Bud Bre weries Ltd), north of Dunda s Street, west of Universit y Ave, Toronto, and
 5.2. , The O’Keef e Toronto Brewery, – Gould Street (near Yonge and D undas),
Toronto, were acquired by Canadia n Breweries Ltd in  and , respectively
Merger Review 185
focused scheme may have an impact in t hese areas. Other regimes, such
as foreign investment review, industrial polic y, or securities and corpor-
ate law, may apply to address them.
Why is this competition-focused reg ime necessary? Mergers may
often have benef‌icial eects th rough the overhaul of management, prod-
uct improvement s, or cost reduct ions from consolid ation and economie s
of scale. Given the potential for such benef‌its, why not permit mergers
simply to proceed, and deal with a ny undesirable eects after the fact, if
they ever occur? Available remedies in competition law include review
of anti-competitive practices by dominant f‌irms, or if coordinated
behaviour occurs, application of the Act’s prohibitions against collusion
and anti-competitive agreements.
There are a number of reasons for a merger review regime. First,
as the Economic Council’s 1969 Interim Report explained, a merger
between competing f‌irms, or the acquisition of an emerging competi-
tor by a dominant f‌irm, may c ause an immediate adverse eect on
[T]he basic reason for public polic y to be concerned with mergers i s
that in the major ity of cases they re sult in permanent changes in t he
structure of indu stry changes which can have imp ortant implica-
tions for the future per formance of the economy.4
Mergers which prevent or reduce competition may result in price
increases, eli minate the potential for future price reductions, or harm
service or other competitive term s of trade. These are akin to the eects
of a horizontal conspiracy, and with a more enduri ng impact on industry
structure. As rev iewed in Chapter 3, such combinations, when resulting
in the creation or enhancement of market power, can adversely aect
allocative, productive, and dynam ic eciency, as rivalry is lost bet ween
competing f‌irms, or as an emerg ing disruptive competitive force is stif‌led
by a takeover. In data-related markets, for example, concern s have been
in the Atlant ic region as elsewhere in the cou ntry. At the same time the
focus of the Tribuna l’s attention could not be primaril y on that considera-
tion, if competit ion concerns could equally be met by u se of the terminali ng
facilitie s. There was some concrete evidence th at this might be the case . The
primar y concerns of the Tribunal have t o be factors such as those lis ted in
section 93 of the Competition Act, with a vie w to the issues which Profes sor
Trebilcock indicated shou ld be the focus of attention in any merger c ase:
possible emergence of a dom inant f‌irm; enhance d ability for tacit collusion.
Canada (Director of Investigation a nd Research, Competition Act) v Imperia l Oil
Limited, [1990] CCTD No 1 at para 79.
4 Economic Council of Can ada, Interim Report on Comp etition Policy (Ottawa:
Queen’s Printer, 1969) at 113.

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