Russian merger control: in favor of foreign companies?
The paper aims to reveal the attitude of the Russian competition authorities towards cross-border mergers involving foreign buyers. The study addresses the following question: Is the probability of Russian competition authorities’ intervention significantly different when a foreign buyer takes part in the merger? This is the key test to reveal whether competition authorities gravitate towards “economic nationalism” or “promotion of foreign investments”. The discrete choice model is applied to the dataset of 7,607 merger cases investigated by the Russian competition authorities between 2012 and 2017. The probability of competition authorities’ intervention, such as merger correction by using remedies or deal rejection, is used as a measure of special attention. The study finds out favoritism patterns of the regulator with regard to foreign companies. In particular, the deals involving a foreign buyer had less chance of intervention, i.e. imposition of remedies, from national competition authorities. The sanctions period does not moderate the probability of approval of a crossborder merger with foreign buyers by the Russian competition authorities. The paper contributes to merger control literature by addressing the political economy issues. It discovers that, besides regulation by the law, there are hidden motives, such as protectionism or favoritism of foreign companies, which could drive the regulator’s decision. Therefore, the studies of crossborder mergers provide an opportunity to investigate the political issues of merger control through the identification of a special attitude to foreign companies and analysis of regularities that might explain such a policy.