Vanderbilt Law Review

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In a world where mergers affect every corner of the planet, any government seeking competitive markets has an interest in ensuring that these mergers are not harmful to competition. As China, the world's most populous country, has committed to a market economy, it has now taken the momentous step of enacting its own Anti- Monopoly Law ("AML"). This effects a dramatic change in the antitrust regulation of multinational mergers. In international antitrust, even subtle legal differences between jurisdictions create significant potential for conflict. For this reason, the advent of antitrust merger review by a country with such massive international economic weight and historic suspicion of capitalism and market forces generates grave concern in antitrust circles.

From an antitrust perspective, mergers are a legitimate concern for the government of every jurisdiction in which the merging firms previously competed. As globalization accelerates, the geographic reach of firms expands and mergers become subject to regulation by an increasing number of jurisdictions. As in any area of law, it is unsurprising that these jurisdictions will on occasion reach different conclusions in analyzing the same set of facts. In the case of cross-border mergers, however, one jurisdiction's disapproval can derail a worldwide merger, even if other reviewing jurisdictions view the merger as unobjectionable, or even beneficial, to competition. Where one jurisdiction perceives the other as blocking such mergers to further its own, non-competition-related social goals or to promote favored domestic firms at the expense of consumers in the first jurisdiction, this may create serious tensions between the two jurisdictions. As globalization continues and the interests of more jurisdictions are bound up in these mergers, the mergers face more complex multilateral antitrust review, and the inherent risks of international tension grow correspondingly.

So far, these conflicts have been relatively rare. The United States and the European Union, the two primary centers of international merger review, maintain quite similar legal standards and have agreed to collaborate in an effort to reach consistent conclusions as frequently as possible. Nonetheless, there have been the rest of the world refers to as "competition law." As such, this Note will use the terms more or less interchangeably..