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Antitrust and competition

Merger control

In an era of heightened regulatory scrutiny of deals, clients rely on our unparalleled global experience for successful strategies in their most complex transactions.

Merger control authorities globally are scrutinising deals more critically than ever. Intervention is increasing across all industries, including fast-paced markets where companies are competing to innovate and traditional sectors where regulators are concerned about levels of concentration. The risk of lengthy reviews and diverging outcomes is heightened, making coordinated strategies across key jurisdictions crucial.

Freshfields is a longstanding global leader in the regulatory and antitrust aspects of M&A. Our team has a proven track record in the most challenging cases at both national and international levels, including crafting sophisticated remedies to get complex deals over the line. Our reputation is also built on integrated and agile teams with unrivalled expertise at the interface of merger control, foreign direct investment and foreign subsidies, which independently or combined can intensify unpredictability and threaten the success of an increasing number of mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures.

This challenging deal environment has also fuelled a trend towards more merger enforcement through litigation. Clients call on our world-class antitrust litigation practice to represent them in a growing number of contentious merger proceedings, as well as in strategic third-party interventions in merger investigations.

Recent client successes

Through this transformational acquisition AstraZeneca has acquired Alexion’s innovative complement pathway technology platform and new product pipeline, enhancing its ability to treat patients with rare diseases worldwide. This significant, cross-border transaction was scrutinised by competition authorities around the world and foreign investment screening in a number of European countries. Our global strategy achieved swift unconditional clearance across jurisdictions.

The complex and high-profile cross-border transaction involved reviews by 21 merger control authorities as well as foreign investment screening in the US, Australia and a number of European countries. The deal was subject to a Second Request in the US, but the Department of Justice ultimately closed its investigation and issued a rare public statement explaining why it had concluded the merger did not raise any competitive concerns. The deal also prompted an in-depth Phase II review by the European Commission and the negotiation of a €4.3bn structural remedy and innovative behavioural remedies to secure clearance.

The transaction was subject to regulatory clearances in more than 30 countries and required remedies, including a significant disposal of assets across Europe, the US and Asia, and public interest commitments in several jurisdictions.

Read more about the deal in our case study.

This was the first time the FTC had been defeated in a merger challenge since 2015. Read our press release and listen to our podcast summarising the case.

The US DOJ issued a Second Request in December 2021 and closed its investigation without an enforcement action in July 2022, a  remarkable success in light of the heightened antitrust scrutiny applied to agricultural deals under the Biden administration. Freshfields also helped secure unconditional antitrust clearance in China and Mexico.

Awards & Recognitions

  • No 1 for Global Merger Control (GCR 100 Survey)
  • FT Innovative Lawyers Awards – Standout Firm for Innovation in Mergers
  • Antitrust Writing Awards Winner – Business Article: Mergers (Concurrences)
  • ‘Merger Control Matter of the Year’, ‘Deal of the Year’, ‘M&A Legal Adviser of the Year’ and ‘Competition and Regulatory Team of the Year’ – in recognition of our work on multiple recent high-profile transactions (American Lawyer, British Legal Awards, GCR Awards, Mergermarket, The Lawyer)


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