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Enterprise Act 2002

Sections 27 and 29: Time when enterprises cease to be distinct & Obtaining control by stages

115.Sections 27 and 29 reproduce sections 69 and 66A FTA 1973. These provide for the application of merger control to cases where ownership or control of an enterprise is obtained over a period of time. The key rule is contained in section 27(2), namely that mergers are treated as having been completed at the moment when all the parties to a transaction are contractually bound to do so. It makes clear that no account is to be taken of options that have not been exercised or conditional rights where the conditions have not been satisfied.

116.Section 27(5) to (8) deals with certain cases where ownership or control has been acquired incrementally over a period of time. Where this has been achieved through one or successive transactions or arrangements between the same parties or interests, the competition authorities can treat them as having all occurred on the date of the last relevant event, subject to a two-year cut-off period.

117.Section 29 allows the authorities to treat a series of separate transactions over a period of up to two years, under which a person or group of persons acquire control of an enterprise, to be treated as occurring on the date of the last transaction when considering a reference. Unlike under section 27, there is no need for the transactions to be linked, nor for them to be between the same persons.

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