Distributive inefficiency in horizontal mergers: Evidence from wealth transfers between merging firms and their customers

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The ultimate goal of antitrust enforcement is to maximize the surplus consumers enjoy by enhancing production efficiency and eliminating market power. Previous literature focuses on the average net wealth effects on merging firms and their stakeholder firms and reports evidence of efficiency gains while no evidence of market power in horizontal mergers. In this paper, we examine how efficiency gains distribute between the merging firms and their customer firms. We find a significant negative relation between the combined abnormal returns on the merging firms and those on their customer firms, demonstrating a wealth transfer effect. Such a negative relation is more pronounced when market power is likely to be more intensive. On average, the merging firms gain, and their customers do not lose. Our results suggest that market power allows merging firms to withhold merger gains that would have been passed to the downstream under perfect competition and prevents customers from enjoying the whole consumer surplus. Distributive inefficiency exists in horizontal mergers.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Financial Analysis
Early online date23 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2021