Online CRESSE Special Policy Sessions

To continue contributing to the debates on important competition policy issues during the COVID-19 pandemic and given the postponement for 2021 of this year’s CRESSE Conference, the CRESSE Scientific Committee decided to organise three online CRESSE Special Policy Sessions, in collaboration with CPI, that were streamed live in late June and early July. Additional sessions may be organised later in the year.

For information about the topics and the contributors to each session see below:

(i) “Controlling pre-emptive mergers: in need of a new approach?” – For the recording of session 1, see here 

A significant number of acquisitions in pharma and digital markets concerns incumbent firms acquiring, smaller/nascent frequently unknown and resource-constrained firms, with products in development that could compete with their own products in the future and, sometimes, the subsequent termination of the development of the target firm’s product (killer acquisitions). An already sizable literature points to significant losses to welfare that might result from these pre-emptive acquisiitons by eliminating potential competitors or by effectively extinguishing the standalone R&D effort of the buyer to expand in a particular space because the target immediately provides the capability (reverse killer acquisitions). Also, in recent years, many competition authorities globally have been advocating for law reform to enhance their enforcement powers in relation to so called “killer acquisitions.” Acquisitions by Google and Facebook, and economies of scope created via control of data sets have often been the focus of attention. It has also been argued, on the other hand, that these transactions may have strong procompetitive underpinnings, combining R&D expertise and placing very risky assets into the hands of firms best positioned to undertake late-stage development and commercialization, ultimately making it more likely that new products successfully come to the market.

In this session, a distinguished panel of speakers, who have made important contributions to the debate and the relevant literature, representing different viewpoints, discussed the issues and reflected on whether there is an inadequacy in the existing merger control toolkit and how best to design competition law and/or other regulatory interventions and remedies to best deal with pre-emptive mergers, illustrating also the differences in the approaches adopted in the US and other countries.

Date: 26th of June 2020.

Moderator: Yossi Spiegel (Coller School of Management, Tel Aviv University)

Speakers: Luis Cabral (NYU Stern), Cristina Caffarra (Vice President, Charles River Associates), Fabien Curto Millet (Director of economics, Google), Aviv Nevo  (The Wharton School and Dept. of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, former Chief Economist at Antitrust Division of Dept. of Justice), Pierre Regibeau (Chief Economist, DG COMP), Andrew Thomas Sweeting (Director, FTC Bureau of Economics)

Commentators: Carmelo Cennamo (Copenhagen Business School)

(ii) “Vertical mergers: enforcement developments and guidelines” – For the recording of session 2, see here  

Vertical and complementary products mergers are among the most difficult and controversial areas of antitrust.  The difficulties arise from the need to weigh conflicting economic forces created by these transactions: some forces tend to reduce price and increase output and investment, while other forces can push in the opposite direction.  The net effects of the these transactions are theoretically ambiguous and depend on details of economic environment.  A further complication is that standard structural screens, such as concentration or other measures of market power, are less informative for vertical and complementary products mergers than they are for horizontal mergers.  This makes developing Guidelines for vertical and complementary products mergers challenging.

 In this session, a distinguished panel of economists who have made important contributions to the economics literature and competition policy in this area discussed the issues in the context of the recently proposed Vertical Merger Guidelines in the US and  the existing Guidance on the Assessment of Non-Horizontal Mergers in the EU.  Among the topics addressed are the appropriate scope for Guidelines in light of the economics literature and policy experience, similarities and differences between the approaches taken in the US and Europe, and the application of Guidelines in practice.

Date: 1st of July 2020.

Moderator: Dan O’Brien (Compass Lexecon)

Speakers: Leslie Marx (Duke University, The Fuqua School of Business), Dan O’ Brien (Compass Lexecon), Patrick Rey (Toulouse School of Economics), Carl Shapiro (Walter A. Haas School of Business & Department of Economics, University of California at Berkeley), Mike Vita (Federal Trade Commission), Hans Zenger (Member of the Chief Economist Team Economist, DG COMP)

Commentators: Hans Friederiszick (E.CA Director), Ana Sofia Rodrigues (Chief Economist, Autoridade da Concorrência (AdC) – Portuguese Competition Authority)

(iii) “Antitrust and Regulation in the Digital Economy” – For the recording of session 3, see here

There is a growing support for some form of regulation, alongside antitrust, in digital markets. The European Commission is consulting on a prospective market investigation tool and ex ante regulation. The CMA’s digital advertising study will inform the UK’s own thinking. But while there are economic similarities between the major platforms, there are also major differences, in business models, in the role played by data (and relevant privacy considerations), in the extent to which platforms are open or closed, and in their roles as rule-setters for their users. What would all this mean for regulation, and indeed what would regulation mean for antitrust? A panel of distinguished speakers brought together several different perspectives for a well-informed and timely discussion of this complex area.

Date: 7th of July 2020. 

Moderator: Amelia Fletcher (University of East Anglia)

Speakers:  David Evans (Chairman, Global Economics), Eliana Garces (Director of Economic Policy, Facebook), Bill Kovavic (Director, Competition Law Center, The George Washington University), Jorge Padilla (Senior Managing Director, Compass Lexecon), Pierre Regibeau (Chief Economist, DG COMP), Simeon Thornton (Director at Competition and Markets Authority)

Commentators: Cristina Caffarra (Vice President, Charles River Associates), Fabien Curto Millet (Director of economics, Google)

If you require any further assistance or information please contact the CRESSE Secretariat.