China's commerce ministry to weigh in on global mergers with new rules

BEIJING Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:05am EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) plans to issue new draft rules in the first half of this year giving the authority more say in global merger transactions that may have an impact on domestic customers.

China is increasingly using antitrust rules to impose conditions on global deals, including the $35 billion merger of Switzerland-based miner Glencore Xstrata PLC (GLEN.L).

The ministry has reviewed about 750 merger proposals since the 2008 establishment of China's anti-monopoly law. Of those, MOFCOM blocked one proposal and imposed conditions on 21 others.

"If (a merger could) create an anti-competitive impact, we are going to pay attention to it and verify (the deal)," MOFCOM anti-monopoly bureau director general Shang Ming said at a news conference on Thursday.

MOFCOM will introduce the rules in the first half of this year, replacing regulations implemented in 2010.

GLOBAL INVOLVEMENT

MOFCOM has become increasingly involved in regulating overseas mergers, while this month it streamlined procedures for simpler proposals involving companies with low market share in China, or Chinese offshore joint ventures with no domestic business.

Last year, MOFCOM agreed to Glencore buying Xstrata provided they sold Xstrata's Las Bambas copper project in Peru and guaranteed a long-term supply of copper concentrate for Chinese customers.

The ministry also required Google Inc (GOOG.O) to continue licensing its Android mobile operating system in a free, open-source environment when the U.S. technology company bought Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc in 2012.

MOFCOM's first major involvement in a global transaction was in 2008 when it imposed conditions on the merger of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA (ABI.BR).

(Reporting by Fang Yan and Matthew Miller; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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