The purpose of this SEEK Project was to investigate the effects of cross ownership of firms (by other firms) and common ownership of firms (by third-party investors; for instance, private equity firms or other institutional investors) on firms’ strategies in the product market and the technology space. More specifically, we ask how cross and common ownership affect firms’ price and non-price strategies and show how such ownership structures change market outcomes through their effects on markups and innovation.

The project team addressed the following questions in four subprojects:

  1. Do cross and common ownership lead to more collusion and collusion between companies?
  2. Are vertical linkages (in the supply and value chain) a widespread phenomenon and what impact do they have on competitors?
  3. What role does common ownership play in the innovation behavior of firms?
  4. What effects do shareholding structures and ownership structures of service stations in Germany have on competition and prices in the fuel market?

Since cross and common ownership usually take the form of minority shareholdings, this empirically prevalent phenomenon is not covered by merger control. Most of the existing work has been of theoretical nature, and conclusive empirical evidence (on general effects, and the difference of cross and common ownership more specifically) is still lacking, especially for the European market. The goal of the project was to fill this gap.