Buyer power and supplier platforms merger: What role for competition authorities?

Seminar organised with Daniel Fasquelle (Assemblée nationale) and Emmanuel Combe (Autorité de la concurrence) by Concurrences review in partnership with Gide Loyrette Nouel and Extent Economics.

Stéphane Hautbourg

There is a growing interest in questions of purchasing power. Purchasing power is the ability of a company to demand preferential purchasing terms. The strengthening of a firm’s purchasing power can have significant pro-competitive effects (lower supply prices passed on to consumers, increased incentives for suppliers to invest and innovate, countervailing power likely to balance the market power of sellers, etc.) but also significant anti-competitive effects, which should not be neglected.

Buying power is not sufficient to characterise a restriction of competition. The effects of structural mergers and horizontal agreements must be assessed in their entirety.

The main competition concerns examined so far relate to exclusionary effects and "communicating vessels". Exclusionary effects are likely to occur if competing buyers are not able to replicate price reductions in the downstream market. As for ’communicating vessels’ effects, they may result from an increase in competitors’ costs if access to the most efficient suppliers is reduced or if competitors decide to compensate for price reductions granted to the buyer with such buying power.

Photos © Philippe Barbosa

Access to this article is restricted to subscribers

Already Subscribed? Sign-in

Access to this article is restricted to subscribers.

Read one article for free

Sign-up to read this article for free and discover our services.



  • French Competition Authority (Paris)
  • University Littoral-Cote d’Opale (Boulogne)
  • Gide Loyrette Nouel (Brussels)
  • Gide Loyrette Nouel (Brussels)
  • Extent Economics/Veltys Oïko (Paris)