Correction: Antitrust HHI threshold was 2500, not 1800

Posted on September 10, 2011  /  0 Comments

On several occasions, I had stated that the mobile industry HHI in India was lower than the US Department of Justice threshold for all industries. The Obama people had revised it to 2500 in 2010. That means that most S Asian telecom industries are below the threshold.

The Justice Department has officially used HHI since 1982, and the guidelines were revised by the Obama administration in 2010. Mr. Hovenkamp notes that despite tougher antitrust rhetoric from President Obama, the revision actually made it easier for proposed mergers to pass muster. Without getting too deeply into the math, industries can be scored on a scale up to 10,000, with 10,000 being a perfect monopoly. During the Bush administration, an HHI score of 1,800 or higher was deemed a concentrated industry, and a merger that increased the score by more than 100 points in such an industry was presumed to raise anticompetitive concerns. The new guidelines raised those numbers to 2,500 and 200.

“It was becoming legendary that the Bush administration wasn’t enforcing the old guidelines,” Mr. Hovenkamp said. “What good is a guideline that doesn’t provide any guidance? The Obama administration conceded that perhaps the old guidelines were too strict. So it made it easier, but at the same time said, ‘We’re going to enforce this.’ ”

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