The government on Monday introduced a bill in Parliament to amend the Competition Act that would confer powers on fair trade regulator CCI to vet all M&A deals and also authorise its director general to carry out search and seizure activities.
DG is the investigating arm of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) that keeps tab on anti-competitive practices in the marketplace. Currently, DG can 'search & seize' only after authorisation from the chief metropolitan magistrate, Delhi.
The amendments also aim to bring down the time for the Commission to decide on combinations (M&A deals) to 180 days from the present 210 days.
Corporate affairs minister Sachin Pilot introduced the 'The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2012' in the Lok Sabha to amend the Competition Act 2002.
The amendments, approved by the Cabinet in October, are aimed at fine-tuning the regulations to bring rules on par with the prevailing scenario and in light of the experiences gained over the past years.
In a move to bring all voluntary mergers and acquisitions (M&As) under the CCI purview, changes as well as a new clause have been proposed in the Act.
As per the new Section 5A, "Notwithstanding anything in Section 5, the central government may, in consultation with the Commission, by notification, specify different values of assets and turnover for any class or classes of enterprise for the purpose of Section 5".
Section 5 relates to combinations of entities.
Earlier, there had been requests for exempting M&A deals in sectors like banking and insurance from CCI ambit.
However, CCI - which has to ensure that M&As do not adversely impact competition - would have to take the views of sectoral regulators in cases of ailing banks or insurers.