Competition Economics

More than ever competition authorities are relying on economic analysis in their investigations and decision making. Working alongside companies and legal counsels we develop sophisticated economic analysis to explain how competition works in different markets.

Our competition economics practice helps clients establish their case with the competition authorities in a clear, constructive, evidence-rich and decisive way.

We have represented clients on competition issues in front of:

  • The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – formerly the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Competition Commission (CC);
  • The European Commission the UK High Court;
  • The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT);
  • Several UK sectoral regulators such as the FCA, Ofcom, Ofgem, ORR, Ofwat and NHS Improvement (formerly Monitor);
  • Several national competition authorities and courts around the world (e.g. Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia).

"As one of the premier economic consultancies in the world, it’s no surprise that PwC’s competition economists have worked on an impressive array of big ticket domestic and international matters... PwC’s varied roster comprises state aid, merger, cartel and regulatory work, as well as providing market definition and damages assessment advice."

Global Competition Review

We serve clients globally with local knowledge

Our UK competition economists can draw on a wide network of competition experts across the world. And as one of the largest professional services firms globally, we can mobilise economists and industry experts with in-depth local knowledge in any region of the globe.

“The global network available to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ competition economists is one of its greatest assets.”

Global Competition Review
Our economists around the world

Key questions we can help clients to answer

Merger Control

Innovative and compelling economic evidence can make the difference between a merger or joint venture being approved, remedied or blocked. Identifying what a competition authority is likely to conclude can have numerous important uses at the pre-deal stage for a client.

We can help clients answer important questions such as: 

  • What kind of merger attracts a competition authorities attention?
  • Is a deal worthwhile given competition concerns?
  • What future competition hurdles companies will have to overcome if they proceed with a deal?
  • How to define the relevant market for the merging products?
  • How to quantify the efficiencies from the merger?
  • How to assess the risk of foreclosure?
  • How to conduct merger simulation?
  • What will happen to the merger policy post brexit?

Please see our brochure for full list of merger cases that our economists have provided advice one.

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Market Investigations

Market studies & investigations in the UK can be initiated by the CMA and sectoral regulators (e.g. FCA, Ofcom, Ofgem, ORR, CAA, Ofwat).

When a market is under the microscope, we use robust economics to break through the market noise in order to get to the key structures and dynamics of competition to inform the authorities’ view from the early phases of an investigation. 

We can help clients answer important questions such as:

  • Are the markets they operate in susceptible to market investigation?
  • How to assess a company’s economic profitability?
  • How to engage with authorities during market studies and investigations?
  • How to appeal decisions to the CAT?

We have advised companies at the OFT, CC, CMA and other sectoral regulators (e.g. FCA, Ofcom, Monitor, Ofgem, ORR and Ofwat) in many of the most high profile investigations in the UK.

Please see our brochure for a full list of market investigations that our economists have advised on.

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Abuse of Dominance

Economic analysis is a fundamental component in the assessment of abuse of dominance cases. A variety of practices such as loyalty rebates and discounts, bundling, or refusal to supply might be dictated by efficiency reasons and not necessarily result in harm to consumers.

Others, such as predation, margin squeeze or foreclosure could only harm consumers if certain conditions are met. This has driven the need for sophisticated economic analysis to distinguish between pro-competitive and anti-competitive effects, and any impact on final consumers.

We can help clients answer important questions such as: 

  • How to assess a firm’s market power?
  • How to identify the relevant theories of harm?
  • How assess the impact of anti-competitive behaviour on consumers?
  • How to conduct price-based testing for harm such as predation or margin squeeze?
  • How conduct foreclosures harms such as exclusive dealing or refusal to supply?

Our economists have worked on prominent abuse of dominance cases including European Commission’s investigations in margin squeeze in telecoms, loyalty rebates in air transport, predation, and foreclosure of online markets.

Please see our brochure for a full list of abuse of dominance cases that our economists have advised on.

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Vertical Agreements

Vertical agreements between suppliers and distributors may take many forms, such as exclusive agreements or setting prices at which retailers can resell a product. We help analyse the effects of vertical agreements to determine whether an agreement is, on balance, pro-competitive or anti-competitive. We also advise on the applicability of sector-specific block exemptions.

We assist companies to design contractual conditions with trading parties that are competition law compliant, and to explain the effects of an agreement in the course of competition authorities’ investigations.

We can help clients answer important questions such as:

  • How to assess whether a vertical agreement breaches competition law?
  • How to assess whether a vertical agreement qualifies for an under competition law?
  • How to assess the competition implications of a minimum price guarantees by an online market platform?
  • How to assess the inter-brand and intra-band competition impacts of vertical agreements?

Our economists have advised on vertical issues in various markets including online markets, telecom and airline services.

Please see our brochure for a full list of vertical agreement cases that our economists have advised on.

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Cartel and Information Exchange

Cartels are being pursued aggressively across the world. We use economic analysis to assess whether there is any evidence of cartel effects, to quantify the impact of any anti-competitive practices as part of a mitigation strategy for fines, and/or for use as evidence in any subsequent appeals and/or damages litigation.

We can help clients answer important questions such as:

  • How to respond to investigations into bid rigging?
  • How to respond to allegations of price fixing?
  • How to respond to allegations of collusion?
  • How to quantify the damages resulting from harm?

Our competition specialists have extensive experience of providing expert testimony in cases involving alleged anti competitive collusion and can be supported by forensic technology specialists who can quickly interrogate vast email and voice correspondence archives to determine whether existing evidence can corroborate a suspicion that a breach of competition law has taken place.

Please see our brochure for a full list of collusive anticompetitive cases that our economists have advised on.

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Competition Litigation and Damages

Our economists have helped several clients in private actions and follow on damages claims. We have provided robust expert testimony on the effects of the anti-competitive conduct, the relevant counterfactual absent the alleged anti-competitive behaviour, the quantification of any harm, and the extent to which claimants have passed on the harm (e.g. by means of higher prices) down the supply chain.

We can help clients answer important questions such as:  

  • What are relevant counterfactuals I need to consider to understand the impact of anti-competitive behaviour?
  • How does proceedings in courts and tribunals work?

Our competition specialists have provided expert witness testimony on damages litigation in various territories including UK High Court and European Commission.

Please see our brochure for a full list of litigation and damages cases that our economists have advised on.

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State Aid

Analysing State aid requires a broad set of economic, financial, and accounting skills. It is also crucial to have an understanding of how the EU Commission’s regulations and process work in order to maximise influence. Our team has supported a number of high profile cases navigate this complex area.

We can help clients answer important questions such as: 

  • How do I prepare a restructuring plan?
  • How to apply for regional and R&D investment aid applications?
  • What are the processes to consider when applying for state aid?
  • How to evidence a Market Economy Investor Principle report to raise a case for public funding?

Our competition specialists have substantial experience in advising clients in both private and public sector on state-aid matters.

Please see our brochure for a full list of state-aid cases that our economists have advised on.

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Case studies

E-commerce Competition Policy in ASEAN

PwC worked with the Competition Commission of Singapore to prepare a competition handbook on E-commerce policy in ASEAN. The handbook explained how E-Commerce impacts traditional competition dynamics, and outlines policy considerations and advocacy strategies to address the challenges of enforcing competition policy in this dynamic sector.

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Assessing an alleged cartel in a series of private procurement tenders

We assisted a client in a major investigation by an antitrust authority relating to alleged cartel agreements in a series of private tenders in an audio-visual rights market. Specifically, we conducted independent economic analysis to estimate the price of the rights in the counterfactual i.e. absent the alleged anti-competitive agreements and assessed whether this was different in any way to actual observed price.

Merger clearance support for an incumbent European telecoms operator

We assisted an incumbent fixed and mobile operator in a merger that would change the market structure from three to two mobile operators. Our work included defining the economic markets relevant to the transaction, from both a product and geographical perspective. We also undertook an assessment of the impact of the transaction on the market, an efficiency assessment and financial analysis. Additionally, we supported the client team in wider discussion regarding the merger and associated efficiencies.

Contact us

Alastair Macpherson

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7703 546424

Nick Forrest

UK Economics Consulting Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7803 617744

Saatvik Bansal

Economist, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7872 815771

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