DP14018 Family Ownership and Antitrust Violations

Author(s): Mario Daniele Amore, Riccardo Marzano
Publication Date: September 2019
Keyword(s): Antitrust violation, Financing, investment, ownership
JEL(s): D22, G34, G38, K21
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14018

We study how family ownership shapes the firms' likelihood of being involved in antitrust indictments. Using data from Italy, we show that family firms are significantly less likely than other firms to commit antitrust violations. To achieve identification, we exploit a law change that made it easier to transfer family control. Studying the mechanisms at play, we find that family firms are especially less likely to commit antitrust violations when they feature a more prominent size relative to the city where they are located, which magnifies reputational concerns. Next, we show that family firms involved in antitrust violations appoint more family members in top executive positions in the aftermath of the indictment. Moreover, these firms invest less and curb equity financing as compared to nonfamily firms. Collectively, our findings suggest that family control wards off reputational damages but, at the same time, it weakens the ability to expand in order to keep up with fiercer competition following the dismantlement of the anticompetitive practice.