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Kenya’s Evolving M&A Landscape: Navigating New Laws and Regulations in 2023

In 2023, Kenya’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) sector has witnessed significant legislative and regulatory changes. These developments include amendments in notification thresholds, the introduction of national security reviews, and their implications on corporate restructuring. This blog aims to dissect these developments, providing insights into how they influence the M&A landscape in Kenya and the strategies businesses must adopt to stay compliant.

New Thresholds for M&A Notification:

The Competition Act, of 2010, outlines specific criteria that determine when mergers must be reported to the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK). These criteria hinge on the combined revenue or assets of both the acquiring and target companies involved in the merger. The recently introduced thresholds categorize mergers into three groups: those that always require notification, those potentially excluded from notification, and those entirely exempt from notification. This classification is instrumental for businesses considering M&A activities, as it dictates the level of scrutiny and the approval process needed. Understanding these categories is crucial as it not only ensures compliance with regulatory requirements but also helps businesses anticipate the regulatory landscape and navigate the complexities associated with the approval process for mergers under the Competition Act.

The Role of National Security in M&A:

While Kenya does not have a definitive rule mandating national security reviews for M&A transactions, the Competition Authority of Kenya’s (CAK) Consolidated Guidelines under the Competition Act incorporate a Public Interest Test for assessing mergers. This test, aimed at ensuring transparency, evaluates the impact of mergers on public policy, particularly in specific sectors. The involvement of the National Security Council in transactions involving entities deemed critical to national security underscores the increasing overlap between economic activities and national security considerations. While the guidelines provide a framework for scrutinizing mergers from a public interest perspective, the absence of a dedicated national security review process raises considerations about the potential need for more explicit regulations in this realm. The evolving landscape suggests that businesses engaged in M&A transactions in Kenya should be attentive to the interface between economic activities and national security, as it can influence the evaluation and approval processes.

Labour Law Considerations:

The existing legal framework in Kenya does not explicitly govern the transfer of employees during M&A transactions. However, the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) imposes a requirement for acquiring parties to disclose their intentions concerning the employees of the target company. This disclosure is made with consideration for the public interest and potential effects on employment. This becomes particularly relevant as employees affected by M&A transactions have increasingly resorted to legal action in instances where their employment was significantly affected. The absence of specific labour laws addressing employee transfers in M&A underscores the importance of transparency and strategic planning by acquiring parties. Navigating this aspect is crucial to not only comply with regulatory requirements but also to address potential legal implications and uphold the rights and interests of employees affected by the transaction. The increasing legal actions taken by impacted employees emphasize the importance of thorough consideration and proper communication during M&A transactions to minimize potential disputes and legal challenges.

Recent Legal Developments:

Recent years have seen several notable legal developments in the M&A sector in Kenya:

  • The release of Joint Venture Guidelines by the CAK in 2021.
  • Guidelines on Share Buybacks for Listed Companies by the Capital Markets Authority (CMA).
  • Key court decisions emphasizing the need for transparency and fairness in asset transfer transactions, impact how businesses approach mergers and acquisitions​​​​​.

Transform Your Business with CR Advocates LLP:

The dynamic nature of M&A laws and regulations in Kenya necessitates expert legal guidance to navigate these complex waters. Transform your business with CR Advocates LLP, where our seasoned team offers unparalleled expertise in mergers and acquisitions. Our deep understanding of the latest legal developments ensures that your business not only complies with the new regulations but also capitalizes on opportunities arising from these changes. Partner with CR Advocates LLP to steer your business towards successful mergers and acquisitions in Kenya’s evolving legal landscape.

To contact CR Advocates LLP, send us an email at info@cradvocatesllp.com or call +254 100979081 or Book a strategy call HERE or direct message us HERE on WhatsApp at your convenience. Our legal team will be happy to help you.