Antitrust with Chinese characteristics

GLOBAL deals may be growing at a rapid clip, but they seldom offer instant gratification. Qualcomm, an American chipmaker, first bid for NXP Semiconductors, a Dutch company, in October 2016. The union has since been blessed by eight regulators worldwide, but one hurdle remains: China. With no decision yet from its regulator, the companies, which were expecting to have closed the $44bn deal this week, now hope to conclude it by July. The purchase of the chip unit of Toshiba, a troubled Japanese company, by a consortium led by Bain Capital, an American private-equity firm, is similarly awaiting sign-off from China.

Some suspect the delays stem from the threat of a trade war with America. Holding back regulatory approval, particularly on sensitive high-tech deals, could be part of the arsenal in any trade conflict. Organisational change may also be to blame. Fay Zhou, who works in Beijing for Linklaters, a law firm, points out that a recent reshuffle, which took merger reviews away from the commerce...



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