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Brief 65: Fuel for thought? Developments in CMA local merger assessment 25.08.21

The CMA recently cleared the acquisition of UK grocery chain Asda by fuel retailer Euro Garages. In its assessment of local overlaps between the parties the CMA adopted a mechanical decision rule methodology, suggesting a shift away from the traditional two stage filtering approach.

In this Brief we consider the CMA’s evolving approach to local market assessment in phase I merger review, and argue that the emerging preference for mechanical decision rules unnecessarily reduces the quality of merger review by disregarding relevant and available information.

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