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Legal unbundling can be a golden mean between vertical integration and ownership separation

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  • Höffler, Felix
  • Kranz, Sebastian

Abstract

We study an industry in which an upstream monopolist supplies an essential input at a regulated price to several downstream firms. Legal unbundling means in our model that a downstream firm owns the upstream firm, but this upstream firm is legally independent and maximizes its own upstream profits. We allow for non-tariff discrimination by the upstream firm and show that under quite general conditions legal unbundling never yields lower quantities in the downstream market than ownership separation and integration. Therefore, typically, consumer surplus will be largest under legal unbundling. Outcomes under legal unbundling are still advantageous when we allow for discriminatory capacity investments, investments into marginal cost reduction and investments into network reliability. If access prices are unregulated, however, legal unbundling may be quite undesirable.

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  • Höffler, Felix & Kranz, Sebastian, 2011. "Legal unbundling can be a golden mean between vertical integration and ownership separation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 576-588, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:29:y:2011:i:5:p:576-588
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    Cited by:

    1. Hunold, Matthias & Laitenberger, Ulrich & Licht, Georg & Nikogosian, Vigen & Stenzel, André & Ullrich, Hannes & Wolf, Christoph, 2011. "Modernisierung der Konzentrationsberichterstattung: Endbericht," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research, number 110525.
    2. Cremer Helmuth & De Donder Philippe, 2013. "Network Investment under Legal and Ownership Unbundling," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 27-59, March.
    3. van Koten, Silvester, 2012. "Merchant interconnector projects by generators in the EU: Profitability and allocation of capacity," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 748-758.
    4. António Brandão & Joana Pinho & Joana Resende & Paula Sarmento & Isabel Soares, 2016. "Welfare effects of unbundling under different regulatory regimes in natural gas markets," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer;Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestao, vol. 15(2), pages 99-127, August.
    5. Gugler, Klaus & Liebensteiner, Mario & Schmitt, Stephan, 2017. "Vertical disintegration in the European electricity sector: Empirical evidence on lost synergies," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 450-478.
    6. Marie-Laure Allain & Claire Chambolle & Patrick Rey, 2016. "Vertical Integration as a Source of Hold-up," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(1), pages 1-25.
    7. Brito Duarte & Pereira Pedro & Vareda João, 2012. "Does Vertical Separation Necessarily Reduce Quality Discrimination and Increase Welfare?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-44, November.
    8. Avenali, Alessandro & Matteucci, Giorgio & Reverberi, Pierfrancesco, 2014. "Broadband investment and welfare under functional and ownership separation," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 70-82.
    9. repec:spr:epolin:v:45:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s40812-017-0075-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Gianpaolo Rossini & Cecilia Vergari, 2014. "The Discrete Charm of Uniform Linear Pricing of an Input Production Joint Venture," Czech Economic Review, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, vol. 8(2), pages 68-83, October.
    11. Anette Boom, 2012. "Vertikale Entflechtung in der Stromwirtschaft," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 81(1), pages 57-71.
    12. Marius Buchmann, 2016. "Information Management in Smart Grids - Who Should Govern Information Management to Balance Between Coordination and Competition on the Distribution Grid Level?," Bremen Energy Working Papers 0022, Bremen Energy Research.
    13. Raffaele Fiocco, 2012. "Competition and regulation with product differentiation," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 287-307, December.
    14. Isabel Soares & Paula Sarmento, 2012. "Unbundling in the Telecommunications and the Electricity Sectors: How Far should it Go?," European Research Studies Journal, European Research Studies Journal, vol. 0(4), pages 157-194.
    15. Fiocco Raffaele, 2013. "The Optimal Institutional Design of Vertically Related Markets with Unknown Upstream Costs," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 183-210, June.
    16. repec:eee:jomega:v:75:y:2018:i:c:p:27-56 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Lindemann, Henrik, 2015. "Regulatory Objectives and the Intensity of Unbundling in Electricity Markets," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-544, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    18. Raffaele Fiocco & Dongyu Guo, 2015. "Mergers between regulated firms with unknown efficiency gains," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 19(4), pages 299-326, December.
    19. Felix Höffler & Sebastian Kranz, 2011. "Imperfect legal unbundling of monopolistic bottlenecks," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 39(3), pages 273-292, June.
    20. Schober, Dominik, 2013. "Static vs. dynamic impacts of unbundling: Electricity markets in South America," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-033, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    21. repec:ers:journl:v:xv:y:2012:i:sie:p:157-194 is not listed on IDEAS
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    23. Gugler, Klaus & Rammerstorfer, Margarethe & Schmitt, Stephan, 2013. "Ownership unbundling and investment in electricity markets — A cross country study," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 702-713.
    24. Buchmann, Marius, 2017. "Governance of data and information management in smart distribution grids: Increase efficiency by balancing coordination and competition," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 63-72.
    25. Nikogosian, Vigen & Veith, Tobias, 2011. "Vertical integration, separation and non-price discrimination: An empirical analysis of German electricity markets for residential customers," ZEW Discussion Papers 11-069, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

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