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How Effective is European Merger Control?

  • Duso, Tomaso
  • Gugler, Klaus
  • Yurtoglu, Burcin B.

This paper applies a novel methodology to a unique dataset of large concentrations during the period 1990-2002 to assess merger control’s effectiveness. By using data gathered from several sources and employing different evaluation techniques, we analyze the economic effects of the European Commission’s (EC) merger control decisions and distinguish between blockings, clearances with commitments (either behavioral or structural), and outright clearances. We run an event study on merging and rival firms’ stocks to quantify the profitability effects of mergers and merger control decisions. We back up our results and methodology by using alternative measures for the merger’s profitability effects based on balance sheet data and obtain consistent results. Our findings suggest that outright blockings solve the competitive problems generated by the merger. Remedies are not always effective in solving the market power concerns, at least not on average. Nevertheless, both structural (divestitures) and behavioral remedies do help restore effective competition when correctly applied to anticompetitive mergers during the first investigation phase. Yet, they are on the whole ineffective or even detrimental when applied after the second investigation phase. Finally, remedies - especially behavioral ones - seem to constitute a rent transfer from merging firms to rivals when mistakenly applied to pro-competitive mergers.

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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 153.

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Date of creation: Jul 2006
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Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:153
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  1. Farrell, Joseph & Shapiro, Carl, 1988. "Horizontal Mergers: An Equilibrium Analysis," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0tp305nx, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
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  15. Fridolfsson, Sven-Olof & Stennek, Johan, 1999. "Why Mergers Reduce Profits, and Raise Share Prices," Working Paper Series 511, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 03 Dec 2001.
  16. Barros, Pedro Pita & Clougherty, Joseph A. & Seldeslachts, Jo, 2007. "Remedy for Now but Prohibit for Tomorrow: The Deterrence Effects of Merger Policy Tools," CEPR Discussion Papers 6437, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. John Simpsom, 2001. "Did May Company's Acquisition of Associated Dry Goods Corporation Reduce Competition? An Event Study Analysis," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 351-362, June.
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  21. Shahrur, Husayn, 2005. "Industry structure and horizontal takeovers: Analysis of wealth effects on rivals, suppliers, and corporate customers," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 61-98, April.
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  23. Slovin, Myron B. & Sushka, Marie E. & Hudson, Carl D., 1991. "Deregulation, contestability, and airline acquisitions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 231-251, December.
  24. Cabral, Luis M. B., 2003. "Horizontal mergers with free-entry: why cost efficiencies may be a weak defense and asset sales a poor remedy," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 607-623, May.
  25. Fee, C. Edward & Thomas, Shawn, 2004. "Sources of gains in horizontal mergers: evidence from customer, supplier, and rival firms," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 423-460, December.
  26. Kim, E Han & Singal, Vijay, 1993. "Mergers and Market Power: Evidence from the Airline Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 549-69, June.
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  28. Song, Moon H. & Walkling, Ralph A., 2000. "Abnormal returns to rivals of acquisition targets: A test of the 'acquisition probability hypothesis'," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 143-171, February.
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  30. Salant, Stephen W & Switzer, Sheldon & Reynolds, Robert J, 1983. "Losses from Horizontal Merger: The Effects of an Exogenous Change in Industry Structure on Cournot-Nash Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(2), pages 185-99, May.
  31. Eckbo, B Espen, 1992. " Mergers and the Value of Antitrust Deterrence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(3), pages 1005-29, July.
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