Where do competition, antitrust, and private equity intersect? Once antitrust’s favored child compared to strategic buyers, private equity seems to have fallen from competition enforcers’ grace. Interestingly, this is part of a broader trend: financial investors in general, from BlackRock to Blackstone, have come into the antitrust spotlight. Being a minority financial investor is no longer reason for antitrust immunity. Economic theory and competition policy have been shifting. Common ownership of small stakes in rival firms by institutional investors, even if passive, can create harm. Rollup acquisitions by active private equity investors may also raise concerns under given circumstances. How is the law reacting to economists’ and policymakers’ nods? With interest on both sides of the Atlantic. Competition law enforcement signals no empty threats, but rather an eagerness to cover blind spots. What is particularly intriguing is that the US and the EU, for reasons of path dependence and system design, have chosen different legal paths to achieve the same goal. What about politics? It is also here (to stay). Antitrust’s recent (over)reach into finance suggests a (renewed) balancing act between competition in product markets and in the market for corporate control, with not only legal and economic underpinnings but also political ramifications.

By Anna Tzanaki[1]

 

I. INTRODUCTION

Who’s afraid of antitrust enforcers? Big Tech firms active in digital mark

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