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The Philippines' new antitrust watchdog flexes its muscles

Energetic enforcement puts PCC on a collision course with M&A-hungry conglomerates

China Telecom needs frequencies to break the Philippine telecom duopoly if it is to compete as a third force.   © Reuters

MANILA The retail arm of SM Investments, the Philippines' most valuable conglomerate, has finally won regulatory approval to acquire a leading local bakery chain, but only after a lengthy review -- a sign that the country's new antitrust watchdog is starting to flex its muscles.

The acquisition, which involves over 500 branches of Goldilocks Bakeshop, was at a standstill for more than four months before the Philippine Competition Commission gave its approval on Jan. 9. To receive that green light, SM had to pledge not to kill off Goldilocks competitors.

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