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Brief 54: An innovative leap into the theoretical abyss: Dow/DuPont and the Commission’s novel theory of harm 05.07.17

In March 2017, the European Commission approved the proposed merger between chemical companies Dow and DuPont, subject to undertakings. The Commission applied an innovation theory of harm that is based on a much broader and more speculative concern than in other recent mergers (e.g. Pfizer/Hospira); namely, that the parties would find it profitable to reduce overall R&D investments post-merger causing a reduction in the number of innovative pesticide products in the future. This Brief explains why this theory of harm marks a departure from previous “innovation” cases. It also responds to the recently published paper by Chief Economist Tommaso Valletti and his colleagues, which claims, on the basis of a theoretical model, that horizontal mergers can be expected to reduce innovation incentives as a result of a standard unilateral effect.

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