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How Effective is European Merger Control?

  • Tomaso Duso
  • Klaus Gugler
  • Burçin Yurtoglu

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. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG - (Wie wirksam ist die Europäische Fusionskontrolle?) In diesem Beitrag wenden wir eine neue Methodologie auf einen einzigartigen Datensatz von großen Unternehmenskonzentrationen während der Jahre 1990- 2002 an, um die Wirksamkeit der Fusionskontrolle zu untersuchen. Wir benutzen Daten, welche von unterschiedlichen Quellen erfasst worden sind und setzen unterschiedliche Auswertungsmethoden ein, um die ökonomischen Effekte der Fusionskontrollentscheidungen der Europäischen Kommission zu analysieren. Wir unterscheiden zwischen Untersagungen, Genehmigung mit Auflagen (entweder Verhaltensauflagen oder strukturelle) und sofortige Genehmigung. Wir verwenden eine "event study" - Methodologie und untersuchen, wie die Aktienpreise sowohl der fusionierenden Unternehmen als auch der Wettbewerber auf die Ankündigung einer Fusion oder einer besonderen wettbewerbspolitischen Entscheidung reagieren, um die Rentabilitätseffekte von Fusionen und von Fusionskontrollentscheidungen quantitativ zu bestimmen. Wir stützen unsere Resultate und Methodologie, indem wir alternative Maße für die Rentabilitätseffekte der Fusion verwenden, die auf Bilanzdaten basieren und erreichen gleich bleibende Resultate. Unsere Analyse ergibt, dass sofortige Untersagungen das von der Fusion verursachte Wettbewerbsproblem lösen können. Dagegen sind Auflagen nicht immer wirkungsvoll - mindestens nicht im Durchschnitt - um die durch die Fusion erzeugte Markmacht zu begrenzen. Dennoch helfen strukturelle Auflagen wie Abstoßungen von Kapitalvermögen und Verhaltensauflagen, einen "effektiven" Wettbewerb wieder herzustellen, wenn sie richtig auf wettbewerbswidrige Fusionen während der ersten Untersuchungsphase des Fusionskontrollverfahren angewendet werden. Jedoch sind sie im Durchschnitt erfolglos - wenn nicht sogar schädlich - wenn sie nach der zweiten Untersuchungsphase angewendet werden. Schließlich scheinen Abhilfemaßnahmen - besonders Verhaltensauflagen -, ein Rententransfer von den fusionierenden Unternehmen auf ihre Rivalen zu sein, wenn sie irrtümlich Wettbewerb steigernden Fusionen auferlegt werden.

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Paper provided by Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG) in its series CIG Working Papers with number SP II 2006-12.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2006
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Handle: RePEc:wzb:wzebiv:spii2006-12
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