Top consulting firms for antitrust & competition economics

26 January 2016 4 min. read

Oxera, RBB Economics, NERA Economic Consulting, The Brattle Group and Bates White Economic Consulting are globally the top consulting firms for competition economics, reveals a new study.

Every year Global Competition Review, a global platform that focuses on economics and competition law, releases its so-called ‘Economics 21’ list, a ranking of the world’s leading competition law and economics advisories. The ranking is part of its wider ‘GCR 100’ study and rates economic consulting firms on a range of factors, including reputation, size of practice, number of nominations to the International ‘Who’s Who of Competition Lawyers & Economists’ and work over the past year. The advisory firms included in the research support clients with among others economic policy setting, merger reviews, antitrust / competition policy, cartel cases, state aid, intellectual property disputes and damages litigation.

This year’s ‘Economics 21’, the 16th edition, has named Oxera the most active player in the area of Antitrust Litigation. The UK based consultancy advised on 47 antitrust litigation cases (including cases for Skyscanner, Air Cargo and MasterCard), four more than NERA Economic Consulting, the economics consultancy unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies (the parent of also Oliver Wyman, Marsh, Mercer and Guy Carpenter). Washington, D.C. based Bates White Economic Consulting holds third spot with 35 antitrust litigation cases, with The Brattle Group and Edgeworth Economics completing the top five. AlixPartners, which entered the list for the first time back in 2013, is found on the sixth spot. Also in the 10 are Frontier Economics, RBB Economics, Copenhagen Economics and Economists Incorporated.

When it comes to investigations for governments, Oxera again holds top spot, although the position is shared with RBB Economics, a London headquartered rival with eight offices globally. Both competition law consultancies completed 31 government investigations, ten more than The Brattle Group, which made the annual ranking for the ninth consecutive year. “With a team that includes two Nobel laureates, it is no surprise that The Brattle Group acts in scores of high-profile antitrust cases, mergers and government investigations,” note the researchers. AlixPartners and Bates White Economic Consulting complete the top 5, with Economists Incorporated, Frontier Economics, PwC and E.CA Economics (one of the most specialised consultancies in the field) respectively holding the positions between six and nine. The 10th spot is shared by three firms: Copenhagen Economics, Edgeworth Economics and Oslo Economics.

Besides providing excellence in their service, expertise and deliverables, the firms featured in the ‘Economics 21’ boast long-standing relationships with law firms, one of the key client service differentiators in the competition law market. Law firms typically rely on the same consultancy for a succession of cases, or on individuals who have performed well for them in previous cases, and this means that long-standing partnerships are a common good in the world of antitrust advisory. The other side of the coin, however, is that it may take some time for newcomers to establish a reputation, partly explaining why many of the major firms in the list have featured among the elite for over a decade.

Bright outlook
Looking ahead the researchers say the outlook for the market is bright. On the back of the growing economy and the buoyant M&A market – McKinsey data shows the market nearly hit $5 billion last year – significant work is expected to flow from mergers & acquisitions. These days, no important merger or investigation is without some high-level number crunching from the top economic consultancies, whether firms serve enforcers attempting to articulate how a deal might harm competition or companies defending their proposed transactions. Other antitrust demand too is forecasted to show an uptick, lifted by a changing regulatory climate and large movements in government economic policy.