China's merger watchdog gets tough on clearance dodgers
* MOFCOM has 'named and shamed' 11 firms for not filing deals
* Some don't seek approval due to confusion over rules
* Others skip process to avoid delays scuppering a deal
* MOFCOM pushing for higher penalties to deter 'gun-jumping'
* Rivals increasingly reporting such cases to MOFCOM
By Michelle Price
HONG KONG, Aug 10 (Reuters) - A week after China's two largest taxi-hailing firms announced plans for a $35 billion merger, lawyers say China's merger control watchdog is cracking down on companies that don't seek approval for deals, and it wants greater powers to punish them.
Last Tuesday the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) antimonopoly bureau took the unusual step of revealing that taxi operator Didi Chuxing had not yet sought clearance to buy rival Uber China's assets but would need to if the deal met its thresholds - which was widely interpreted more as an order than a statement.
It is not yet clear if the deal breaches MOFCOM's thresholds or if a clearance application has been filed. Continued...