ACCC commissioner Sarah Court has indicated that the regulator won't be compromising its tough stance on merger regulation as a result of the global economic crisis.
Speaking at the inaugural Competition and Trade Practices Summit in Sydney on 12 March, Court said the ACCC wouldn't be swayed by protectionist sentiment.
"In short, the Commission's position on the global financial crisis is that its primary responsibility remains unchanged - and that is to protect competition, not only in the short term, but for the longer term," she said.
"Reverting to protectionism in any form because of the current financial downturn is not the answer."
Court ruled out any relaxation of merger regulation standards, and warned those considering opportunistic mergers that 'failing firm' claims would be closely scrutinised.
"Failing firm claims are easily made and merger parties - and in some cases receivers and administrators - can have an incentive to make these claims out of self-interest," she said.
"Merely establishing that a firm is likely to fail without a merger is not sufficient to satisfy the ACCC that a substantial lessening of competition will not occur."
By Laura MacIntyre