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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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The Google case: shop till you drop (off the screen)

In 2017 the European Commission imposed a record €2.4bn fine on Google for abusing its dominant position in online search by giving preferential treatment to its own comparison shopping service. Such complex cases of leveraging of market power also arise in other digital markets, and raise several questions. How should competition authorities weigh benefits to consumers against harm to competition and competitors? How can competition concerns be remedied without affecting incentives to innovate?

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Regulatory appeals: do the UK’s appeal regimes stand up to critical review?

In the UK, complex decisions by economic regulators for their respective sectors are reviewed and appealed according to bespoke regimes, and decided by specialist bodies such as the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Dr Gavin Knott, Director (remedies, business and financial analysis) at the CMA, looks at the current appeal regimes and how they might develop in future

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Quid pro quo? What factors influence IPO allocations to investors?

Investment banks face potential conflicts of interest when conducting initial public offerings (IPOs) of shares, as they provide services for both issuing firms and buy-side investors. Tim Jenkinson and Howard Jones of the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, and Felix Suntheim of the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), use data gathered as part of the FCA’s market study into investment and corporate banking to shed light on the extent to which conflicts of interest drive allocation decisions

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The X factor: what is the productivity target for German gas utilities?

The German federal network agency (Bundesnetzagentur, BNetzA) has determined the preliminary productivity factor X (Xgen) for gas networks in Germany—as in RPI – X (or CPI – X). The Xgen ensures that gains from technological progress and changes in input prices are passed on to final network customers via lower prices for network services. How was the Xgen determined? Why does it matter? And what lessons can be drawn?

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Regulating oligopolies in telecoms: the new European Commission guidelines

In February 2018 the European Commission published draft guidelines on determining significant market power (SMP) in electronic communications markets. This is one of several policy developments in the regulation of these markets, which are increasingly oligopolistic rather than monopolistic. What are some of the new (and old) issues raised by these developments?

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The impact of state aid on competition: an economic framework for the European Commission

In December 2017 the European Commission published Oxera’s ex post assessment of the impact of state aid on competition, a study that could have significant implications for future state aid control. We first developed an economic framework that the Commission can use in state aid assessments to evaluate the competitive effects of the aid. We then applied the framework in four case studies, providing insights into the main drivers of the impact of aid on competition

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To mothball or not to mothball?

The current power generation shift from carbon-intensive energy sources towards carbon-neutral, intermittent sources such as wind and solar continues to be a priority throughout the EU. This transition has consequences for the efficient design of power markets. Jan Bouckaert, Oxera Associate and Professor of Economics at the University of Antwerp, and Geert Van Moer, PhD Fellow of the Flanders Research Foundation, and University of Antwerp, discuss recent research on the implications for investments in conventional power plants

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How did cats get the cream of the Internet?

Cat videos have won the Internet—Grumpy Cat, Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat fill our social media feeds. Why do people create these videos? What motivates them, and how does the cat video market work? Equally, why do we watch videos of cats rather than watching perceived higher-quality content such as opera or learning a language online?

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Ofwat’s PR19 methodology: what’s changed?

On 13 December 2017, Ofwat published its final methodology for how it will set prices for water companies in England and Wales from April 2020. This follows a consultation paper issued in July. In the final methodology, many of the policy decisions remain the same. However, Ofwat has now provided an initial view on the cost of capital. We look at this and other changes in its approach

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