BRUSSELS, Oct 7 (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators are seeking feedback from interested parties before deciding whether to scrutinise small merger deals that give companies access to valuable data or high-potential drugs.
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager flagged the move last week, underlining the possibility of some companies acquiring data-rich rivals to lock in users and exclude competitors.
EU merger rules now apply only to deals where the combined businesses exceed specific thresholds in terms of annual global and EU-wide turnover.
The European Commission said it may include other criteria, such as a high purchase price or high-value biotech products under development, depending on the results of the consultation launched on Friday.
"There have been suggestions to complement the existing thresholds by other alternative criteria in order to capture some types of transactions in certain sectors, for example digital services and pharmaceuticals," the EU antitrust enforcer said in a statement.
The consultation, which runs until Jan. 13, could also lead to simpler rules for straightforward merger deals. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Adrian Croft)