Rosa-Branca Esteves and Helder Vasconcelos

This paper studies the interaction between horizontal mergers and price discrimination by endogenizing the merger formation process in the context of a repeated purchase model with two periods and three firms wherein firms may engage in behavior-based price discrimination (BBPD). From a merger policy perspective, this paper’s main contribution is twofold. First, it shows that when firms are allowed to price discriminate, the (unique) equilibrium merger gives rise to significant increases in profits for the merging firms (the ones with information to price discriminate), but has no ex-post effect on the outsider firm’s profitability, thereby eliminating the so-called (static) “free-riding problem.” Second, this equilibrium merger is shown to increase industry profits at the expense of consumers’ surplus, leaving total welfare unaffected. This then suggests that competition authorities should scrutinize with greater zeal mergers in industries where firms are expected to engage in BBPD.