Scale Economies and Synergies in Horizontal Merger Analysis
Three years ago, the Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission revised their Horizontal Merger Guidelines to articulate in greater detail how they would treat claims of efficiencies associated with horizontal mergers: claims that are frequently made, as for instance in the recently proposed merger between Heinz and Beech-Nut in the market for baby food. While these revisions to the Guidelines have a solid economic basis, they leave open many questions, both in theory and in practice. In this essay, we evaluate some aspects of the treatment of efficiencies, based on three years of enforcement experience under the revised Guidelines, including several litigated mergers, and based on economic principles drawn from oligopoly theory regarding cost savings, competition, and consumer welfare.
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