19 May 2022 09:11

Russia to simplify approval of transactions worth up to 2 bln rubles, lift restrictions on market share in retail deals

MOSCOW. May 19 (Interfax) - The Russian government will raise the threshold for transactions eligible for a simplified approval process with the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) to assets worth up to 2 billion rubles, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said.

The government will also lift restrictions that set a 25% cap on market share in the retail sector until the end of the year if this concerns acquisitions of assets from foreign companies leaving Russia, Mishustin said at a meeting of the commission for increasing the economy's stability when speaking about a new package of priority measures to support the Russian economy amid sanctions.

"The approved additional list of measures proposes to simplify businesses' work with the Federal Antimonopoly Service. The maximum threshold for the value of assets whose purchase will be subject to the simplified processing procedure will be raised to 2 billion rubles," he said. At present, acquisitions worth up to 800 million rubles are eligible for the regulator's simplified approval process.

"This refers to acquisition of shares, stakes in property and rights in regard to commercial organizations. The buyer will not have to send the FAS a preliminary request and wait for permission to buy. This takes time that many might not have right now. It will be sufficient to send the Antimonopoly Service a notification on the concluded deal," Mishustin said.

This measure will not apply to transactions involving strategic businesses. "The Antimonopoly Service will continue to carefully monitor this, just like the preservation of competition upon the transfer of assets," Mishustin said.

He also spoke about plans to temporarily lift restrictions on transactions involving retail chains with foreign owners leaving the Russian market.

"At the same time we plan to ease retail chains' purchases of stakes in companies that were previously controlled by foreign owners. Right now there is a restriction where one chain cannot account for more than 25% of retail sales in a given area. In the current circumstances, such a barrier could hinder the quick restructuring of a business, lead to temporary difficulties on various product markets. Therefore, the restriction will be suspended until the beginning of next year," Mishustin said.

"We expect that these proposals will make it possible to significantly simplify and accelerate the conclusion of transactions with property, support businesses in efforts to expand their projects with assets that appear on the market and, of course, preserve jobs at such companies in the event that some foreign owners decide to close their business in the country," he said.

Transactions involving the possible purchase of stakes in retail businesses from foreign companies have already been discussed, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov told reporters. "At this point such deals are not being prepared yet, but there have been discussions," he said.

He said the bill applies to food retail and is intended to enable Russian companies to acquire food retailers who decide to leave Russia "unhindered, without regulatory restrictions," and thus preserve jobs.

"I stress that the bill does not involve lifting the threshold completely, only temporarily not applying it to deals to buy departing foreign retailers. The established threshold remains if a Russian chain buys [a retailer] from a Russian competitor," Manturov said.