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Academic Articles Awards > Mergers

Europe – The final countdown: Five, four, three… No, wait!

Michele Piergiovanni et al, Competition Law & Policy Debate , Volume 3 , Issue 4, November 2017

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In recent years the European mobile telecommunications industry has been characterised by a wave of in-country consolidation. In this context, a series of four-to-three mobile only mergers have been reviewed by the European Commission.1

All these mergers concerned oligopolistic markets featuring a small number of firms and high entry barriers, where changes in market structure would likely have lasting anticompetitive effects. The focus of this article is to provide the authors’ perspective on certain key elements of the Commission’s assessment of these transactions under the EU Merger Regulation (“EUMR”)2 that were common to a number of these cases, namely the: (i) concepts of important competitive constraint, important competitive force and
closeness of competition in the assessment of horizontal mergers;3 (ii) economic tools used by the Commission to carry out a quantitative assessment of the effects of the mergers (in particular when assessing the possible unilateral/non-coordinated effects of a given transaction on the retail market); and (iii) assessment of efficiencies.

There are several other issues that have been widely debated in the context of the Commission’s assessment of recent four-to-three mobile mergers. These include, amongst others, the extent to which the Commission has relied on the parties’ internal documents in its assessment4 and the Commission’s approach to remedies.5 A review of these issues is, however outside the scope of this paper.

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