Year of Publication

2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Dr. Frank Scott

Abstract

Maverick firms are defined in the Horizontal Merger Guidelines as those firms that may exert a disproportional competitive effect in markets where they compete. The Guidelines mandate that mergers and acquisitions involving maverick firms be given special consideration by the Agencies, however not much is known about maverick firms or their competitive effects when they are acquired. The Guidelines describe characteristics that may be present in a maverick firm, but stop short of providing a discrete test that may be used for their identification. They are often small firms whose acquisitions do not warrant reporting to the Agencies due to falling under the thresholds in the Hart Scott Rodino Act, and when they are reported, they are often difficult to identify. With the increase in acquisitions of startups and other disruptive firms by dominant incumbents as seen in the tech sector, there is public policy interest in assessing the possible damages or benefits that may arise in mergers and acquisitions of maverick firms. This dissertation takes a look at two mergers in two different industries that may shed light on these questions.

The first chapter analyzes a merger in the airline industry. Using publicly available data from the Department of Transportation, I use a difference-in-differences and a triple difference approach to analyze the price effects of the merger between Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways, two maverick firms in the airline industry. I find anticompetitive merger-related price effects that are multiple times those of previous merger analyses in the airline industry of non-maverick firms. The results suggest that the merger weakened the firm’s own incentives to act as a maverick due to the elimination of maverick competition, as well as its incentives to act as a maverick towards other firms.

The second chapter analyzes the acquisition of a maverick firm by a non-maverick dominant incumbent in the beer industry. I use the Nielsen Scanner database and a difference-in-differences approach to uncover the merger-related effects on price, quantity, and variety of offerings due to the acquisition of Goose Island by AnheuserBusch Inbev. A fear among policymakers is that dominant incumbents will acquire mavericks to release competitive pressure on themselves or foreclose parts of the relevant market to other startups. I find the contrary to be true in this acquisition, with the incumbent firm maintaining price competition while expanding sales and encouraging entry into the market for craft beer.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2020.333

Available for download on Friday, February 05, 2021

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