Comesa comfort letters exempt merger notifications

Author: Danielle Myles | Published: 14 May 2014

The Comesa Competition Commission has issued five comfort letters in recent months, exempting deals from notifying under Africa’s controversial merger clearance rules.

Speaking exclusively with IFLR, the Commission’s M&A head Willard Mwemba said the practice is set to continue under the highly anticipated revised Merger Assessment Guidelines, which should be finalised by the end of June.

Informal exemptions are a welcome development for parties to M&A transactions that touch the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). The nascent competition regime’s high filing fees, zero thresholds and remote local nexus test makes it one of the world’s most onerous, drawing criticism from foreign lawyers.

While the first comfort letter was issued in December, Mwemba said internal practices for issuing the exemptions have...