HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège
HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège

Gafam Market Power: the role of a firm's age, data, and overlapping economic activities in merger and acquisition strategies

Maitry, Robert ULiège
Promotor(s) : Gautier, Axel ULiège
Date of defense : 22-Jun-2022/29-Jun-2022 • Permalink :
Title : Gafam Market Power: the role of a firm's age, data, and overlapping economic activities in merger and acquisition strategies
Translated title : [fr] Pouvoir de marché de GAFAM : le rôle de l'âge, des données et du chevauchement des activités économiques d'une entreprise dans les stratégies de fusion et d'acquisition
Author : Maitry, Robert ULiège
Date of defense  : 22-Jun-2022/29-Jun-2022
Advisor(s) : Gautier, Axel ULiège
Committee's member(s) : de Barsy, Laureen ULiège
Van Cleynenbreugel, Pieter ULiège
Language : English
Number of pages : 78
Keywords : [en] GAFAM
[en] Mergers
[en] Digital markets
Discipline(s) : Business & economic sciences > Special economic topics (health, labor, transportation...)
Target public : Researchers
Professionals of domain
General public
Institution(s) : Université de Liège, Liège, Belgique
Degree: Master en sciences économiques, orientation générale, à finalité spécialisée en economic, analysis and policy
Faculty: Master thesis of the HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège


[en] Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, Apple, and Microsoft (GAFAM) are among the leading technology companies of the modern era. These market-leading positions enable them to make numerous mergers and acquisitions per year. For GAFAM alone, 329 mergers and acquisitions were identified in the analysed period from 2015 to 2021. In this context, there are growing concerns that leading market positions of large technology companies will be further expanded by anti-competitive practices related to this high merger activity. This thesis aims to determine how age, data and overlapping economic activities, as part of the merger and acquisition strategies, explain the dominant market positions of GAFAM. Additionally, the role of the origin and total funding of the acquired companies is examined in the context of these strategies. This involves finding out whether acquisitions of companies with certain characteristics may have anti-competitive motives.

In this paper, a retrospective analysis of GAFAM's merger and acquisition deals between 2015 and 2021 is conducted. In addition, the tech giants' decisions to shut down companies after the acquisition are examined. For this purpose, GAFAM and the companies they acquired are grouped into clusters based on their areas of economic activity. This aspect is taken into account in the review of their merger and acquisition strategies.

In most of the cases, the acquired firm is shut down after the acquisition. The results suggest that young companies or companies active in the field of cloud infrastructure prove to be more susceptible to shutdown decisions taken by GAFAM. This raises further concerns about the dominant position of GAFAM and potential anti-competitive motives at stake. Mergers and acquisitions may serve the purpose of eliminating the competitive threat posed by a young start-up company. Or they could be used to gain a strong advantage in cloud infrastructure that is used in an anti-competitive manner to further expand market power. Hence, the thesis proposes alarm signals for competition authorities to raise awareness of potential anti-competitive practices and ways to respond to them. This is not only relevant to mitigate anti-competitive behaviour by the five gatekeepers of the digital economy, but also by other large technology companies. An effective policy recommendation may help to reduce market power of large technology companies and related anti-competitive practices. Consequently, more companies may enter the market and compete with the incumbents, which stimulates innovation.



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  • Maitry, Robert ULiège Université de Liège > Master sc. éco., or. gén., à fin.


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