European M&A Regulation is Protectionist
Why do regulatory authorities scrutinize mergers and acquisitions? The authorities themselves claim to be combating monopoly power and protecting consumers, but the last two decades of empirical research has found little supporting evidence for such laudatory motives. An alternative is that M&A regulation is actually designed to protect privileged firms. In this paper, we provide a test of protectionism by studying whether European regulatory intervention is more likely when European firms are harmed by increased competition. Our findings are unambiguous: European regulation is protectionist. The results are robust to a variety of statistical difficulties, including endogeneity between investor valuations and regulatory actions.
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