UK antitrust authority investigation of Investment Consultants: progress report

What happened?

In September 2017, the UK antitrust authority, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), began a market investigation into competitive conditions in investment consultancy and fiduciary management services. On 21 February 2018, the CMA declared that it has made progress, is about to publish its working papers, and launch a further information gathering exercise. The CMA states that it is contemplating remedial action and expects to publish a provisional decision in July 2018.

Why does this matter?

This progress update clarifies the timetable of the CMA’s investigation, and puts interested parties on notice as to when they should be preparing to review and respond to CMA publications:

  • The CMA has all but confirmed its initial intention to focus its investigation on how the market works for pension funds as customers.  However, the CMA has repeated its request for feedback on this proposal, in case there are particular issues regarding the provision of the relevant services to other categories of institutional investor.  If so, charities, insurance companies, endowment funds and others should make such issues known to the CMA without delay.
  • The CMA’s working papers will give an early indication of the evidence that it has found and its current thinking.  In particular, the CMA has stated that, without prejudging the final outcome of the investigation, the working papers may set out its current thinking on potential remedies, and be used as a basis for engaging with stakeholders on those remedies.  As such, they will provide interested parties with an opportunity to respond to the CMA and to seek to influence the outcome of the investigation.  The deadline for doing so is June 2018. 

What are the next steps?

The CMA’s Provisional Decision, to be published in July 2018, will contain the CMA’s provisional findings.  Interested parties will have an opportunity to respond orally, at a response hearing, and in writing by October 2018.  The CMA will then consider those responses, before reaching a final decision by the statutory deadline, 13 March 2019.

How can Cadwalader help? 

Cadwalader’s antitrust team is one of only a few  to focus on the financial services sector. We regularly represent companies before the EU and US antitrust authorities, including the CMA, and have an in-depth understanding of their priorities and procedures.  We can help your company to advocate its views and preferred outcome, including through drafting responses to information requests, position papers and decisions, and preparation for meetings with the CMA.

If you would like to discuss the issues arising in this alert, or how we can help you more generally, please contact Vincent Brophy or Tom Bainbridge.


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