Akin Gump partner Davina Garrod led a panel of antitrust experts on Mergers in the Digital Era at the Hotel Le Plaza, Brussels, on Monday, November 25, 2019, as part of the Annual International Bank of Commerce Advanced European Union Competition Law Conference. Davina, European Commission Directorate-General Competition official Balasz Horvath and Royal Business Bank partner Adrian Majumdar discussed:

  • The key characteristics of digital markets, tech platforms and ecosystems.
  • The relevance of network effects, multihoming and interoperability in the substantive analysis.
  • Big data as an asset or input.
  • Perceived enforcement gaps in digital mergers, including oversight of acquisitions of tech start-ups.
  • Lack of prevalence of "killer acquisitions."
  • Whether jurisdictional merger thresholds should be lowered or expanded (e.g., adding transaction value thresholds).
  • Online advertising and "attention" (two-sided) markets and the challenges this poses for market definition.
  • Treatment of low probability-high impact competitive harm, and whether authorities should avoid Type II errors.
  • Key Takeaways from the Furman, Lear and Cremer Reports.
  • Innovative remedies in digital mergers.

The audience included representatives from major tech platforms, telcos, automotive manufacturers, financial institutions, investors, media companies, fast-moving consumers goods companies, luxury goods manufacturers, government officials, regulators and private practitioners.