On the Competitive Effects of Bidding Syndicates

  • 1 Northwestern University
  • 2 University of Connecticut


Firms commonly form syndicates to bid jointly for financial assets. Recently, this practice has come under legal scrutiny motivated by models which suggest syndicates are anti-competitive. These models do not account for two important features of financial markets: bidders' value estimates are likely to be correlated, and complicated mechanisms known to be optimal in such settings are usually eschewed in favor of simpler auction formats. We show that these features make it possible for syndicate bidding to generate higher revenues for the auctioneer than bidding among independent firms, even when syndicates are asymmetric or lead to a highly concentrated market. This occurs because syndication can make the industry more suitable to the simple auction format in use. We identify conditions under which syndicates are pro-competitive and discuss the implications for antitrust.

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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy (BEJEAP) is an international forum for scholarship that employs microeconomics to analyze issues in business, consumer behavior and public policy. Topics include the interaction of firms, the functioning of markets, the effects of domestic and international policy and the design of organizations and institutions.