Firms decide to merge for a wide variety of reasons, but ultimately the goal is to produce value for shareholders through improvements in efficiency. From society’s perspective, mergers also typically advance consumer welfare, either directly or indirectly.
Yet many antitrust populists [INSERT LINK] decry even mergers that generate tangible efficiency improvements. And their criticisms have received attention by antitrust authorities. Their criticisms are, moreover, not just leveled at horizontal mergers — those combinations among direct competitors that have historically raised more antitrust concerns. Increasingly, concerns are being raised about vertical mergers (mergers between non-competitors that integrate different parts of a supply chain). And this is happening despite a large body of economic literature that demonstrates vertical mergers are almost always welfare-enhancing.
ICLE’s scholars consistently undertake analysis of mergers, both in academic scholarship and the popular media. The goal of this work is to provide an even-handed analysis of proposed mergers, objectively examining their likely consequences for society, with a particular focus on consumer welfare effects. As such, our scholarship offers a counterpoint to populist attacks on mergers and helps to inform a more rational analysis by antitrust authorities.