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Mind the vGUPPI! A new approach to vertical mergers in local markets

Recent transactions involving the merging of wholesale and retail activities (most notably the Tesco/Booker merger and the Co-op/Nisa merger) have led the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to introduce a new framework for assessing vertical mergers. What is the framework of analysis of these cases, and how can the vGUPPI tool be used in the context of grocery mergers?

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Four-ever? Competition remedies in the audit market

In light of recent accounting scandals, there are widespread calls for the UK competition authority to re-examine the audit market. Yet spending a substantial amount of resources on a market investigation, and concluding once again that there is a competition problem, is of little value if a suitable remedy cannot be found. A break-up of the Big Four is perceived by many as a necessary and long-awaited intervention, but is it the right solution? And if not, what would be an alternative remedy?

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Battle in the trenches? The future of ultrafast broadband roll-out in the UK

The UK government is finalising its review into the future of telecoms infrastructure, which has included a call for evidence on market and policy models to support the necessary investment. Simon Pilsbury, Regulation Director at TalkTalk Group, one of the UK’s largest broadband providers, looks at the policy agenda that the government and Ofcom should adopt in order to stimulate ultrafast broadband investment across the UK. This follows an Agenda article in April 2018 on the same topic from BT’s perspective

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Regulation 2018: ‘back to basics’

The UK is experiencing a backlash against the liberal orthodoxy of utility regulation of ten years ago, which was based on privatisation, competition and deregulation. A recent Agenda article on the legitimacy of sectoral regulation in the UK asked ‘Is it policy, ownership, industry structure, governance, financing or regulation that is driving the problem?’ Martin Cave, Visiting Professor, London School of Economics, provides his perspective

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Discrimination or differentiation? Price discrimination as an abuse of dominance

When does price discrimination by a dominant firm amount to an abuse? Is the mere existence of a price difference sufficient? A recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) provides some guidance on these questions, highlighting the ability to distort competition as a key criterion for a finding of abuse. Taking an economic perspective, we look at the CJEU’s approach and consider the implications for other cases of discrimination more broadly

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The curious case of the valueless valuation—the Signia Wealth v Vector Trustees ruling

On 8 May, the High Court in London issued a judgment on the Signia Wealth v Vector Trustees Limited case. Mr Justice Marcus Smith determined that the fair value of the 49% stake in Signia Wealth owned by Ms Nathalie Dauriac (represented by Vector Trustees Limited ) was £790k—in sharp contrast to the £21m claimed by Ms Dauriac. This valuation decision provides an important precedent on the choice of the appropriate valuation method and the importance of taking into account relevant contractual terms in the valuation exercise

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By object or by effect: revisiting pharmaceutical patent settlements after paroxetine

Are patent settlement agreements in the pharmaceutical sector an infringement of competition law by object? Could they be an infringement by effect? The March 2018 judgment of the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) on the paroxetine case, which referred these key questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), sheds some light on the matter. What can we learn about both the judgment and the questions in light of the growing economic literature on patent settlements?

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A promise of protection: a behavioural experiment into pension decisions

How does the presence of consumer protection affect decisions at retirement? Oxera undertook a behavioural experiment for the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) to understand the role of FSCS protection—in both how consumers select their retirement income products, and whether they choose to obtain financial advice. This revealed how people behave in a realistic environment, providing insight into actual consumer behaviour and the importance of the FSCS in their decision-making

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How best to create an enduring framework for investment in world-class broadband connectivity in the UK?

The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is investigating ‘what longer term changes could be made to market structures and policy frameworks to encourage investment’, and is aiming to reach initial conclusions in the summer. In the spirit of open and constructive debate, Emily Clark, Chief Economist at BT Group, sets out BT’s emerging thinking on what UK policymakers can do to support investment in ultrafast broadband networks across the UK

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Legitimacy and renationalisation: where next for utility regulation?

UK regulated utilities are facing the tightest scrutiny that they have experienced in years. A tit-for-tat battle between the two main political parties in proposing changes to address public concerns has culminated in the Labour Party proposing renationalisation and the Conservative Party greater regulatory supervision. So what is the regulatory outlook for customers, companies and their investors in the context of the renationalisation agenda and other recent developments?

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