UPDATE:  The Merger Register went live on March 9, 2012.

The Competition Bureau will, at “the beginning of March”, start publishing a “Merger Register” on its website that will disclose certain information about transactions that are subject to the pre-merger notification obligations contained in the Competition Act.  Designed to increase the level of transparency at the Bureau, the Merger Register is not without controversy.  Divulging such information is a marked departure in practice, as the Bureau has traditionally felt constrained by the confidentiality restrictions in the Competition Act.

The Bureau announced on February 6, 2012 that any merger review completed after February 1, 2012  will be included in the Merger Register, so long as the parties have either submitted a pre-merger notification or sought an advance ruling certificate in respect of the transaction.  In essence, every merger transaction reviewed by the Bureau – other than a non-notifiable transaction reviewed on the initiative of the Bureau – will be captured by the Merger Register.

Inclusion in the Merger Register will mean the following information will be disclosed:

  • the names of the parties;
  • the industry involved (the NAICS code); and
  • the outcome of the review.

Confidentiality Concerns

Concerns have been raised that disclosing this information contravenes the strict confidentiality provisions found in the Competition Act.  However, the Competition Bureau considers that publishing the Merger Register falls within one of the exceptions to the provisions, which permits disclosure “for the purposes of the administration or enforcement” of the statute.