London Stock Exchange Group Plc faces a potential delay to completing its $27 billion purchase of Refinitiv after European Union regulators suspended their Oct. 27 deadline to review the deal.

The European Commission abandoned the old deadline at the start of this week because the companies failed to provide “in a timely fashion, an important piece of information that the commission has requested from them,” the regulator said in an emailed statement. “Once the missing information is supplied by the parties, the clock is re-started and the deadline for the commission’s decision is then adjusted accordingly,” the EU said.

Timing is of the essence for the LSE deal since an EU decision before the end of 2020, while EU competition law still applies to the U.K., gives legal certainty that a separate review would not be required in Britain.  The U.K. quit the EU earlier this year but a transition period is currently in place until Dec. 31 while arrangements for the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU are being worked out.

The authority opened a deeper probe of the deal last month, citing issues ranging from the companies’ combined control of financial data and the effect the deal could have on trading and clearing of bonds and derivatives.  LSE’s Refinitiv Deal Faces Deeper Antitrust Review in Singapore.

European regulators are increasingly using the so-called “stop the clock” measure to suspend tight deadlines for supplying information in merger cases. While the step is relatively common in complicated data-heavy cases, the EU has been delaying reviews even more frequently during the Covid-19 outbreak as many of its staff and those of the companies it’s scrutinizing work from home.

Holiday periods also add to the pressure to delay reviews, as tight deadlines for companies to supply large amounts of information — and for regulators to analyze it — become harder to meet.  A spokeswoman for LSE declined to comment, referring to its statement last month when it said it was committed to closing the transaction this year.

A new deadline is usually set after companies satisfy EU officials with whatever information they are looking for. For some economic analysis, that can mean large amounts of data on sales that takes time to assemble.

Refinitiv offers products including the Eikon terminals, the FXall platform and trading execution system Redi. Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with Refinitiv to provide financial news, data and information.

Source:  Bloomberg