A key competition law development in the Philippines in 2020: I have two developments I want to mention—one positive and one negative. One of the most significant competition law case in the Philippines in 2020 is the approval of URC/La Carlota. Back in 2019, the PCC prohibited the merger between the only two sugar cane milling providers in province of Batangas as it will eliminate competition in the geographic market, impacting negatively on planter-miller sharing agreements, sugar recovery rates and incentives to planters. The parties came back to the PCC this year and proposed an acquisition for the same product market but in a different geographic area where there are a number of strong competitors as well as the presence of strong countervailing buyer power. As the parties seriously took into account PCC’s concerns in their previous deal and re-negotiated a transaction that will not pose competition concerns, this signals an important shift in conducting business transactions, one that takes into account competition law.
However, the economic recovery law (as a response to covid 19) enacted this year exempts transactions below 50 billion pesos (roughly 1 billion USD) from merger control for a period of two years and prevents the Commission from initiating any investigation of merger transactions for a period of one year. The impact of this will remain to be seen.
A place to visit in the Philippines after the pandemic: As soon travelling is possible, I recommend to experience Palawan in the Philippines. It is a beautiful, picturesque island – it has cliffs, white sand beaches, a UNESCO world heritage site: the subterranean river national park, lagoons, aquamarine waters, beautiful dive spots (with shipwreck sites) and a variety of marine life. You can learn more about it here and here.
Krystal Uy Sia is the Director for Mergers and Acquisitions Office of the Philippine Competition Commission.