Brattle economists have analyzed the competitive impacts of hundreds of mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures involving major U.S. and international companies in review processes conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Transportation, Federal Communications Commission, Surface Transportation Board, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and state attorneys general. We have worked for both the merging parties and federal and state antitrust authorities. We also have provided expert reports and testimony in litigation surrounding alleged anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions.
We are often asked to assess the antitrust risks associated with a transaction prior to its review by an antitrust agency. When cases are filed, we assist the merging firms through the review process by using economic theory along with empirical data and relevant industry information to define markets, analyze competitive effects and entry, and assess efficiencies. For those cases where an antitrust agency is likely to seek relief, we evaluate remedies that would address the agency’s concerns. For cases that are challenged, we provide litigation support and expert testimony.
We also have extensive experience assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the various analytical techniques used in merger analysis. These include the econometric analysis of consumer behavior using scanner data and consumer surveys, the analysis of “natural experiments” to define markets and assess competitive effects, and the use of oligopoly models, including simulations, to predict competitive effects.
On behalf of the merging parties, Brattle economists analyzed the competitive impact of Duke Energy’s acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas for antitrust review by the Federal Trade Commission and “public interest” review by the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Our analysis examined the effect of the transaction on competition with respect to gas transportation and delivered gas in North Carolina and other areas, including allegations of potential “vertical” harm through partial foreclosure or the use of strategies to raise rivals’ costs.
Brattle economists provided testimony on behalf of a third party in several proposed transactions involving Comcast, including the recently proposed Comcast-Time Warner transaction. We performed an analysis of the FCC’s vertical foreclosure and Nash bargaining models applied to the proposed transaction.
A Brattle economist was retained by an interested third party in connection with a proposed merger of two large supermarket chains. Brattle obtained and analyzed industry data on store locations and sales, identified a number of relevant geographic markets where the proposed merger raised concerns regarding a lessening of competition under the Merger Guidelines, and suggested divestitures to resolve such concerns. Brattle’s findings were presented to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as well as a state attorney general. The merger was permitted subject to a number of divestitures.
Brattle economists provided economic analysis of the transborder joint venture between Air Canada and United-Continental. Brattle assessed the likely competitive effects of the transaction, including through an econometric analysis of airline fare data to determine the fare impacts associated with past changes in market structure on transborder routes.
For the joint venture between Coors and Miller, Brattle economists developed unilateral effects models to predict the magnitude of price changes from the merger within particular brand categories. As part of this analysis, we examined the extent to which a price increase in one brand would cause sales to be diverted to another brand. In addition, we estimated the savings in shipping costs that would result from the proposed acquisition. The DOJ chose not to challenge the joint venture based in part on the expected savings in shipping costs.