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Predation and Mergers: Is Merger Law Counterproductive?

  • Persson, Lars


    (The Research Institute of Industrial Economics)

This paper studies the interaction between the incentives for predation and mergers. I show that the incentive for predation in an oligopoly is limited by the subsequent competition for the prey. This bidding competition is expecially fierce when the prey's assets exert strong negative externalities on rivals. Firms may therefore prefer to predate to destroy the prey's assets, rather than just its financial viability. The paper also demonstrates that predation may be preferred to an immediate merger for two reasons. First, by predating, firms may share the costs of eliminating a rival and circumvent the free-riding problem associated with mergers, and second, destructive predation helps firms avoid the bidding competition. It is also shown that a restrictive merger policy may be counterproductive, since it may increase the incentives for predation by helping predators avoid the bidding competition. Moreover, the incentive for predation under the US failing firm defense might be even stronger, since it allows mergers bu limits the bidding competition.

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Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 516.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: 02 Jul 1999
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in European Economic Review, 2004, pages 239-258.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0516
Contact details of provider: Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 8 665 4500
Fax: +46 8 665 4599
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  1. Dixit, Avinash K, 1986. "Comparative Statics for Oligopoly," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 27(1), pages 107-22, February.
  2. Garth Saloner, 1987. "Predation, Mergers, and Incomplete Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(2), pages 165-186, Summer.
  3. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1984. "Strategic Deterrence of Sequential Entry into an Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(1), pages 1-11, Spring.
  4. Yamey, B S, 1972. "Predatory Price Cutting: Notes and Comments," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 129-42, April.
  5. Kamien, Morton I & Zang, Israel, 1990. "The Limits of Monopolization through Acquisition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 465-99, May.
  6. Neumann, George R & Nelson, Jon P, 1982. "Safety Regulation and Firm Size: Effects of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(2), pages 183-99, October.
  7. Persson, Lars, 1998. "The Auctioning of a Failing Firm," Working Paper Series 514, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  8. Appelbaum, Elie & Weber, Shlomo, 1992. "A note on the free rider problem in oligopoly," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 473-480, December.
  9. Perry, Martin K & Porter, Robert H, 1985. "Oligopoly and the Incentive for Horizontal Merger," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 219-27, March.
  10. Bolton, Patrick & Scharfstein, David S, 1990. "A Theory of Predation Based on Agency Problems in Financial Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 93-106, March.
  11. Dan Kovenock & Suddhasatwa Roy, 2005. "Free Riding in Noncooperative Entry Deterrence with Differentiated Products," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 119–137, July.
  12. Raymond Deneckere & Carl Davidson, 1985. "Incentives to Form Coalitions with Bertrand Competition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(4), pages 473-486, Winter.
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