No. 84: Killer Acquisitions Under EU Merger Control: Recent European Commission Decisions


  • Hatice Kocaefe
Publish Date:
February 5, 2024
Publication Title:
European Union [EU] Law Working Papers
Stanford Law School
Working Paper
  • Hatice Kocaefe, Killer Acquisitions Under EU Merger Control: Recent European Commission Decisions, EU Law Working Papers No. 84, Stanford-Vienna Transatlantic Technology Law Forum (2024).
Related Organization(s):


Merger control is a regulatory process that supervises corporate mergers and acquisitions (‘M&A’), with the aim of safeguarding competition and the well-being of consumers in particular markets. However, a regulatory gap has emerged as large companies exploit loopholes to evade merger control thresholds. This strategy involves acquiring small companies with significant potential and market impact, eliminating potential competitors, and stifling promising innovation—commonly known as ‘killer acquisitions’. This phenomenon poses significant concerns for jurisdictions as competitors are absorbed or marginalized through certain M&A transactions. The creation or consolidation of dominant positions can lead to reduced consumer benefits in terms of pricing, choice, quality, and innovation, resulting in less efficient and consumer-attractive markets. Merger control seeks to prevent these companies from becoming too powerful and negatively impacting competition, thereby significantly affecting both existing and potential competitors. Recognizing this regulatory gap, the European Commission (‘EC’) has taken action to address it, utilizing Article 22 of the EU Merger Regulation (‘EUMR’) and releasing new guidance on its interpretation. Furthermore, the focus has extended to the digital market, given its significance in contemporary commerce. This study delves into the recent decisions made by the EU Commission in the pharmaceutical and digital sectors, which talks about the origins of killer acquisitions, the evolving perspective of the EC, and the practical implementations of its regulatory measures. Additionally, the research continues investigating the contemporary challenges and concerns associated with killer acquisitions in practice and explores competitive effects, highlights emerging issues, and offers insights into potential solutions. To arrive at comprehensive findings, the study employs qualitative research methods, analyzing relevant regulatory frameworks, academic literature, significant cases, and M&A statistics and contributes to a better understanding of killer acquisitions, their impact on competition, and the evolving role of merger control in addressing this complex issue.