Beginning on October 28, 2013, all merger control cases before China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) will have to be filed, and only be filed, in electronic form. In the past, it was required by MOFCOM to provide both hard and soft copies (i.e., paper or scanned copies) of all materials submitted. The new filing system uses software developed by MOFCOM itself (System) that incorporates a digitalized merger notification form updated by MOFCOM in June 2012 (please see “China Streamlines Antitrust Notification Process” http://www.mwechinalaw.com/news/2012/chinalawalert061c.htm).
The System appears to work well. Generally, the System allows a filing party to submit all data and information required by MOFCOM in electronic form (i.e., either by typing into or choosing an option in the software). A data package, incorporating all data and documentation submitted in support of the filing, will be generated by the software automatically.
The launch of this new System is unlikely to change the procedure of merger filing to any great extent. However, it does allow MOFCOM to collect and compile data in a much more efficient and timely manner. This new System also allows MOFCOM to much more easily compare information provided by others in the same or a similar industry, and to compare information submitted by the same party in different cases. The new System will therefore require a higher level of vigilance by notifying parties to ensure they provide accurate and consistent information. Also, counsel practicing in this area can expect to see an improvement in efficiency, and likely more sophisticated assessment by MOFCOM of mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, as this new tool should help with data analysis.