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Competition Law

Competition Law (10th edn)

Richard Whish and David Bailey
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date: 21 March 2023

p. 85220. Mergers (1): introductionlocked

p. 85220. Mergers (1): introductionlocked

  • Richard WhishRichard WhishEmeritus Professor of Law at King’s College London
  •  and David BaileyDavid BaileyProfessor of Practice in Competition Law at King’s College London


This chapter briefly discusses the subject of merger control. Merger control is an important component of most, though not all, systems of competition law. Merger control has been under particular scrutiny in recent years, partly as a result of the rapid development of digital technologies and the emergence of powerful digital platforms. Separately there has been a certain backlash against the trend towards the globalisation of markets, and national governments, as well as the EU, have considered whether controls over the foreign acquisition of key industries are required, and whether the basic test of merger control – would a merger be harmful to competition? – should be supplemented by broader provisions enabling ‘the public interest’ to be taken into account. Against this background, the chapter begins by explaining what is meant by a ‘merger’ or ‘concentration’, the term used by the EU Merger Regulation (EUMR). It then proceeds to describe the different effects of mergers between independent firms from within and different production levels, the proliferation of systems of merger control, why firms merge, and the purpose of merger control. The final section of the chapter deals with how to design a system of merger control when a country decides, as a matter of policy, to adopt one.

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