On 22 April 2013, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) published its conditional approval of Marubeni's acquisition of Gavilon Holdings – hot on the heels of the regulator's conditional clearance of the Glencore/Xstrata merger which also concerned strategically-sensitive global markets where China is heavily dependent on imports. The key issues arising in Marubeni/Gavilon include the following:

  • MOFCOM's finding of separate relevant markets for imports.
  • MOFCOM's apparent willingness to find market power notwithstanding relatively low market share levels.
  • MOFCOM's requirement, as a condition of its approval, that Marubeni and Gavilon continue to operate as separate economic entities with respect to exports of soybeans to China.

These aspects of the decision appear driven by industrial policy considerations and indicate that any transaction that involves key industries – food and agriculture in Marubeni/Gavilon – will be scrutinised closely and regulated with an eye toward broader strategic interests.

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