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Shelving or Developing? The Acquisition of Potential Competitors under Financial Constraints


  • Chiara Fumagalli
  • Massimo Motta
  • Emanuele Tarantino


We analyse the optimal policy of an antitrust authority towards the acquisitions of potential competitors in a model with financial constraints. With respect to traditional mergers, these acquisitions trigger a new trade-off. On the one hand, the acquirer may decide to shelve the project of the potential entrant. On the other hand, the acquisition may allow for the development of a project that would otherwise never reach the market. We first show that a merger policy does not need to be lenient towards acquisitions of potential competitors to take advantage of their pro-competitive effects on project development. This purpose is achieved by a policy that pushes the incumbent towards the acquisition of the potential entrants that lack the financial resources to develop the project. To this end, the implementation of this policy can be contingent to the bid formulated by the acquirer. However, we also show that, if the anticipation of a takeover relaxes the target firm's financial constraints, a more lenient merger policy, which allows for the acquisition of firms that have already committed to enter the market, may be optimal.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiara Fumagalli & Massimo Motta & Emanuele Tarantino, 2020. "Shelving or Developing? The Acquisition of Potential Competitors under Financial Constraints," Working Papers 1197, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:1197

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Vojislav Maksimovic & Gordon Phillips, 2001. "The Market for Corporate Assets: Who Engages in Mergers and Asset Sales and Are There Efficiency Gains?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(6), pages 2019-2065, December.
    2. Gerard Hoberg & Gordon Phillips, 2010. "Product Market Synergies and Competition in Mergers and Acquisitions: A Text-Based Analysis," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(10), pages 3773-3811, October.
    3. Igor Letina & Armin Schmutzler & Regina Seibel, 2020. "Start-up acquisitions and innovation strategies," Diskussionsschriften dp2003, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    4. Jean Tirole, 2006. "The Theory of Corporate Finance," Post-Print hal-00173191, HAL.
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    Cited by:

    1. Massimo Motta & Martin Peitz, 2020. "Big Tech Mergers," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_2020_147v2, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
    2. Letina, Igor & Schmutzler, Armin & Seibel, Regina, 2020. "Killer Acquisitions and Beyond: Policy Effects on Innovation Strategies," CEPR Discussion Papers 15167, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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    More about this item


    merger policy; digital markets; potential competition; conglomerate mergers;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law

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