Office of Fair Trading
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OFT and Competition Commission jointly publish guidance on good practice in merger surveys

The Competition Commission (CC) and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) today published guidance setting out good practice principles for the design and presentation of consumer survey research in merger inquiries.

The guidance is designed to assist companies and their advisors wishing to submit research evidence to the two authorities during merger inquiries, and is likely to be of particular interest to legal firms, management consultancies, economic consultancies and market research agencies.

Merger survey evidence submitted as part of merger inquiries is often used to help the authorities define markets or assess the closeness of competition between firms.

The guidance sets out that, in order to be given the greatest evidential weight, consumer survey results should:

  • test clearly-stated hypotheses
  • be representative of the relevant consumer population
  • deploy sound social research methods
  • be reported in full, with supporting data available to allow key results to be replicated and tested.

The publication also includes detailed illustrations and examples of good and poor practice drawn from recent experience in OFT and CC investigations.

Steve Brown, OFT Head of Statistics said:

'The assessment of evidence submitted by parties is a key component of our mergers decision-making process. By publishing this new guidance, we are responding to the demands of professional advisors and researchers for more transparency.'

Marcia Stephens, Senior Statistician at the Competition Commission said:

'We're pleased to have worked with the OFT to produce this good practice note, which demonstrates our transparent approach to working and will give parties valuable guidance on how their survey evidence can be as effective as possible.'

NOTES

  1. The authorities published draft guidance for consultation in May 2010. A summary of the responses is available from http://www.oft.gov.uk/OFTwork/consultations/closed/2011/merger-inquiries and from the CC website.
  2. The OFT is the UK's combined competition and consumer authority. In relation to merger activity, it is the first phase review body. Where necessary, it refers any relevant mergers to the CC for further investigation at second phase. 
  3. The CC is an independent public body, which carries out investigations into mergers, markets, and the regulated industries.




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