DOI: 10.1515/bejeap-2023-0177 ISSN:

Downstream Profit Effects of Horizontal Mergers: Horn & Wolinsky and von Ungern-Sternberg Revisited

W. Benedikt Schmal
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics


Mergers between previously contending firms are a permanent challenge for policymaking as they potentially harm competition. The core incentive to merge is the prospect of higher joint profits of the previously independent firms after the merger. We discuss and compare the core assumptions of Horn and Wolinsky (1988) and von Ungern-Sternberg (1996) that lead to contrary results regarding the attractiveness of horizontal mergers of downstream firms in a 1:2 setting leading to a monopolized 1:1 setting. While the latter finds a merger beneficial for the downstream firms, it harms their joint profit, according to Horn & Wolinsky. We theoretically apply both models to the two settings. We also present extensive sample calculations that quantitatively confirm the two papers’ core insights. Discussing and contextualizing the results, we provide a comprehensive overview of horizontal mergers in the downstream part of vertical structures with bargaining over linear input prices. Due to continuing relevance of horizontal mergers for competition policy and, in particular, in light of the consolidation phase in tech start-ups, the topic is of enduring relevance in policymaking.

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