CCCS Grants Conditional Approval for Acquisition of certain subsidiaries and assets of Refinitiv Holdings Limited by London Stock Exchange Group plc
24 May 2021
(View Media Release in PDF)
1. The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (“CCCS”) has granted conditional approval of London Stock Exchange Group plc (“LSEG”)’s acquisition (the “Transaction”) of certain subsidiaries and assets of Refinitiv Holdings Limited (“Refinitiv”) (collectively, the “Parties”), after accepting commitments from LSEG. The Transaction was notified to CCCS on 27 March 2020 and completed on 29 January 2021.
2. Following its review of the Transaction, CCCS has identified competition concerns arising from the Transaction based on information received from the Parties and third parties. Specifically, third parties have raised concerns about their continued access to Refinitiv’s WM/Reuters foreign exchange benchmarks (“WM/R FX benchmarks”), which are critical inputs with no reasonable substitutes to competing providers of index licensing and derivatives clearing services. Accordingly, CCCS is concerned that the Transaction will reduce the incentive for the merged entity to continue to supply WM/R FX benchmarks on a non-discriminatory manner, as the Transaction will result in Refinitiv being merged or affiliated to a major clearing provider (i.e. LCH Group) as well as a major index licensing provider (i.e. FTSE Russell) with global presence.
Commitments by LSEG
3. To address these competition concerns, LSEG proposed a set of commitments (“Proposed Commitments”).
4. From 27 January 2021 to 9 February 2021, CCCS invited public feedback on whether the Proposed Commitments would sufficiently address the competition concerns arising from the Transaction. Through the feedback received, industry players and customers generally agreed that the Proposed Commitments will achieve their objectives, and made suggestions to refine the Proposed Commitments to better address the identified competition concerns.
5. In response to the suggestions raised during the public consultation, LSEG submitted revised commitments (“Final Commitments”), as attached in Annex 1 and summarised below:
i. LSEG shall make WM/R FX benchmarks available to all existing and future (a) customers for the purpose of providing index licensing services; and (b) clearing houses for providing clearing services in Singapore (collectively, “WM/R Customers”).
ii. LSEG shall (a) ensure the pricing and other commercial terms applied to WM/R FX benchmarks shall not be changed in such a way as to constitute a de facto failure to make WM/R FX benchmarks available to WM/R Customers; (b) not reclassify or redefine WM/R FX benchmarks in a manner that would undermine the efficacy of the commitments; and (c) deal with WM/R Customers in relation to any future contracts regarding access to WM/R FX benchmarks for index licensing or clearing purposes in good faith.
iii. The commitment period is ten years from the date of CCCS’s final decision on the Transaction.
iv. A Monitoring Trustee will be appointed to monitor compliance with the commitments, including to assess all complaints regarding a potential breach of the commitments. A fast-track dispute resolution mechanism is also available for complainants to seek recourse, failing which the complainant may request arbitration.
6. After evaluating the feedback provided by third parties, and the revisions made by LSEG, CCCS considers the Final Commitments sufficient to address the competition concerns arising from the Transaction. CCCS has therefore approved the Transaction on 24 May 2021, conditional upon the implementation of and compliance with the Final Commitments by LSEG. The Final Commitments are effective from 24 May 2021.
7. More information on the Transaction and CCCS’s Grounds of Decision will be made available in due course on the CCCS website under the section “Public Register”.
8. For more information on the merger review process in Singapore, please refer to Annex 2.
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About the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore
The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (“CCCS”) is a statutory board of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. CCCS administers and enforces the Competition Act (Cap. 50B) which empowers CCCS to investigate and adjudicate anti-competitive activities, issue directions to stop and/or prevent anti-competitive activities and impose financial penalties. CCCS is also the administering agency of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (Cap. 52A) or CPFTA which protects consumers against unfair trade practices in Singapore. Our mission is to make markets work well to create opportunities and choices for business and consumers in Singapore.
For more information, please visit www.cccs.gov.sg.
About the Section 54 Prohibition under the Competition Act & Merger Procedures
Section 54 of the Competition Act (Cap. 50B) (“the Act”) prohibits mergers that have resulted, or may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition in Singapore. CCCS is generally of the view that competition concerns are unlikely to arise in a merger situation unless:
- The merged entity has/will have a market share of 40% or more; or
- The merged entity has/will have a market share of between 20% to 40% and the post-merger combined market share of the three largest firms is 70% or more.
Merging entities are not required to notify CCCS of their merger but they should conduct a self-assessment to ascertain if a notification to CCCS is necessary. If they are concerned that the merger has infringed, or is likely to infringe, the Act, they should notify their merger to CCCS. In such cases, CCCS will assess the effect of the merger on competition and decide if the merger has resulted, or is likely to result, in a substantial lessening of competition (“SLC”) in Singapore.
Separately, CCCS has the ability to conduct an investigation into an un-notified merger if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the merger infringes section 54 of the Act. In the event CCCS finds that a merger situation has resulted or is expected to result in an SLC, CCCS has powers to give directions to remedy the SLC. For example, CCCS can require the merger to be unwound or modified to address or prevent the SLC, as the case may be. CCCS may also consider issuing interim measures prior to the final determination of the investigation.
Phase 1 and Phase 2 Merger Review
A Phase 1 review entails a quick review and allows merger situations that do not raise competition concerns under the section 54 prohibition to proceed. CCCS expects to complete a Phase 1 review within 30 business days. By the end of this period, CCCS will determine whether to issue a favourable decision and allow the merger situation to proceed. If CCCS is unable, at the end of the 30-day period, to conclude that the merger situation will not result in a substantial lessening of competition, CCCS will inform the merger parties and the merger parties may file further information and supporting documents as listed in Form M2. Upon receipt of Form M2, CCCS will proceed to a Phase 2 review.
A Phase 2 review entails a more detailed and extensive examination of the merger situation. While the principles of substantive assessment are the same, CCCS will require access to more extensive and detailed information regarding the merger parties and the markets in question.
As the Phase 2 review is more complex, CCCS will endeavour to complete a Phase 2 review within 120 business days.
Section 60A of the Act states that CCCS may, at any time before making a decision as to whether the section 54 prohibition has been or will be infringed, accept commitments that remedy, mitigate or prevent the substantial lessening of competition or any adverse effect arising from the merger situation. Where CCCS has accepted a commitment, CCCS will make a favourable decision.
Further details can be found in the CCCS Guidelines on Merger Procedures 2012.
For more information, please visit www.cccs.gov.sg.
 CCCS accepted the notification as complete on 6 April 2020.
 For more information on the Phase 1 and Phase 2 reviews, please refer to CCCS’s media release dated 2 July 2020 and CCCS’s media release dated 16 September 2020 respectively.
 LSEG has a majority ownership interest in LCH Group, a holding company of two separate multi-asset class global clearing house operators with an open access model (i.e. LCH Ltd and LCH SA).
 FTSE Russell is a wholly owned subsidiary of LSEG which supplies over approximately 250,000 indices, which are grouped into more than 200 index families, based on different exposures such as geographies, sectors, and asset classes, and other classifications such as size and style.
 For more information on the public consultation, please refer to CCCS’s media release dated 27 January 2021.
 These are index licensing services provided from Singapore for users globally; or to users resident in or operating a business in Singapore.
 The clearing houses have to be approved or recognised by Monetary Authority of Singapore under Section 51(1)(a) or Section 51(1)(b) of the Securities and Futures Act, Chapter 289 of Singapore.
 These are clearing services carried out in Singapore, or to serve customers in Singapore.
 The form can be accessed at www.cccs.gov.sg/approach-cccs/notifying-a-merger/filing-a-merger-notification-with-cccs.