Merger control

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Merger control refers to the procedure of reviewing mergers and acquisitions under antitrust / competition law. Over 60 nations worldwide have adopted a regime providing for merger control.

Merger control regimes are adopted to prevent anti-competitive consequences of concentrations (as mergers/takeovers are also known). Accordingly most merger control regimens provide for one of the following substantive tests:

  • Does the concentration substantially lessen competition? (US, UK)
  • Does the concentration significantly impede effective competition? (EU)
  • Does the concentration lead to the creation or strengthening of a dominant position? (Germany, Switzerland)


In practice most merger control regimes are based on very similar underlying principles. Simplified, the creation of a dominant position would usually result in a substantial lessening of or significant impediment to effective competition.

Modern merger control regimes are of an ex-ante nature, i.e. the antitrust authority has the burden of predicting the anti-competitive outcome of a concentration. While it is indisputable that a concentration may lead to a reduction in output and result in higher prices and thus in a welfare loss to consumers, the antitrust authority faces the challenge of applying various economic theories and rules in a legally binding procedure.

Unilateral effect

Unilateral effect is a competition law term used in the area of merger control. It refers to the ability of post-merger firms to raise...
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