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WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Raphaël De Coninck is widely praised for his “notable experience as a merger control economist”, providing top-tier evidence and testimony in phase II investigations, cartels and abuse of dominance cases. 

Questions & Answers

Dr Raphaël De Coninck is a vice president and head of the Brussels office at Charles River Associates (CRA). Raphaël has provided expert economic evidence and testimony in numerous high-profile cases covering antitrust and competition matters (including over 60 mergers and 20 Phase II merger investigations), intellectual property, trade and damages quantification. He advises clients on litigation and regulatory proceedings in front of the European Commission, national courts and authorities, and in arbitration.

What do you enjoy most about your role as a competition economist?

I very much enjoy competition economics because it is a field where economics and empirical evidence have a very tangible impact on the real world. Working as an economic consultant on competition matters, such as mergers and antitrust, also provides unparalleled access and insights to the functioning of so many varied industries (in my case from airlines to financial instruments, passing by IT, pharma, chemicals, music or consumer goods) – so one always keeps learning.   

What advice do you have for clients looking to engage a competition economist?

Don’t look for “yes-men/women”, who use some weak economic reasoning to justify anything, but rather look for economists who are able to provide a realistic assessment and guide the client to the best outcome. Rosy economic assessment, if not backed by strong evidence, will be counterproductive when it will have to be defended in front of competition agencies. This is a repeated game, and some economists have lost all credibility with agencies – so I would advise clients not to go down that route. 

I would also strongly recommend that clients consider economists who are deeply familiar with the regulator’s perspective. For instance, my previous work in the chief economist team at DG Competition allows me to anticipate and advise clients on the best course of action, assess risk, and seek to develop the evidence that will be most effective with the Commission and their specialised team of economists. Keeping closely in touch with my former colleagues also allows me to be well informed about the latest developments and economic thinking on the Commission side.

What impact do you think that covid-19 will have on regulators, and what can companies do in response?

While I do not see a paradigm change within the agencies, covid-19 has brought unprecedented upheaval to many markets. As a result, determining the counterfactual becomes more uncertain and requires additional economic analysis. The outcome of many cases in front of agencies now depends in large part on such analysis. 

What breadth of cases are you currently working on?

I have a very varied portfolio of cases, including first and foremost large mergers, but also damages and antitrust cases, in front of the European Commission of course, but also courts and national competition authorities, in particular in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands… plus some regulatory, trade, IP and arbitration work.

What are the greatest challenges currently faced by competition economists?

A key challenge for competition economists is to always remain independent and objective. Indeed, it would not provide a service to the client to support their arguments if these are not rock-solid from both a factual and economic perspective – rather, competition economists should work closely with the client to identify and establish sound economic evidence that will hold in front of the courts and agencies. 

How would you say the role of the economist has developed over the course of your career in competition?

Beyond data crunching, economists now contribute more and more to the big picture of cases because theories of harm have become firmly grounded in economics. Agencies are now better equipped to handle complex economic evidence, and therefore allow economics to play a more central role in investigations (big or small). Similarly, economic resources deployed by clients in competition matters (including the level of involvement as well as the size of economic consultant teams) have increased significantly, in particular - but not only - in phase II mergers, in which it is essential for merging parties to be able to quickly deploy large teams of fully dedicated economists. Also, economic analysis now takes a critical role not only at certain points in times, but during a longer part of a case life-cycle, e.g. from the early feasibility assessment of a potential deal to the competitive assessment of remedies. 

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished? 

I have been very fortunate to work with fantastic colleagues along the years, both as part of the chief economist team at DG Competition and at CRA. Now I am particularly thrilled to see my younger colleagues at CRA grow into accomplished and respected economic consultants of their own, which I am hoping to help them achieve further.

What advice would you give to younger economists starting out in their careers?

Specialise in competition but keep the broader economic perspective in mind and stay close to the latest economic developments, also outside of competition – this is a great way to keep moving and stay at the cutting-edge of the application of economics to competition… and keep it interesting!

Thought Leaders - Competition - Economists 2021

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Raphaël De Coninck is widely praised for his “notable experience as a merger control economist”, providing top-tier evidence and testimony in Phase II investigations, cartels and abuse of dominance cases. 

Questions & Answers

Dr. Raphaël De Coninck is a vice president and head of the Brussels office at Charles River Associates (CRA). Raphaël has provided expert economic evidence and testimony in numerous high-profile cases, covering antitrust and competition matters (including over 60 mergers and 20 Phase II merger investigations), intellectual property, trade and damages quantification. He advises clients on litigation and regulatory proceedings in front of the European Commission, national courts and authorities, and in arbitration.

What do you enjoy most about your role as a competition economist?

I very much enjoy competition economics because it is a field where economics and empirical evidence have a very tangible impact on the real world. Working as an economic consultant on competition matters, such as mergers and antitrust, also provides unparalleled access to and insights into the functioning of so many varied industries (in my case, from airlines to financial instruments, passing by IT, pharma, chemicals, music or consumer goods…) – so one always keeps learning.  

What advice do you have for clients looking to engage a competition economist?

Don’t look for “yes-men/women”, who use some weak economic reasoning to justify anything, but rather look for economists who are able to provide a realistic assessment and guide the client to the best outcome. Rosy economic assessment, if not backed by strong evidence, will be counterproductive when it comes to defending it before competition agencies. This is a repeated game, and some economists have lost all credibility with agencies – so I would advise clients not to go down that route. 

I would also strongly recommend that clients consider economists who are deeply familiar with the regulator’s perspective. For instance, my previous work in the chief economist team at DG Competition allows me to anticipate and advise clients on the best course of action, assess risk, and seek to develop the evidence that will be most effective with the Commission and their specialised team of economists. Keeping closely in touch with my former colleagues also allows me to be well informed about the latest developments and economic thinking on the Commission side.

What impact do you think that covid-19 will have on regulators, and what can companies do in response?

While I do not see a paradigm change within the agencies, covid-19 has brought unprecedented upheaval to many markets. As a result, determining the counterfactual becomes more uncertain and requires additional economic analysis. The outcome of many cases in front of agencies now depends, in large part, on such analysis. 

What breadth of cases are you currently working on?

I have a very varied portfolio of cases, including first and foremost large mergers, but also damages and antitrust cases, in front of the European Commission of course, but also courts and national competition authorities, in particular in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands… plus some regulatory, trade, IP and arbitration work.

What are the greatest challenges currently faced by competition economists?

A key challenge for competition economists is to always remain independent and objective. Indeed, it would not provide a service to the client to support their arguments if these are not rock-solid from both a factual and economic perspective. Rather, a competition economist should work closely with the client to identify and establish sound economic evidence that will hold in front of the courts and agencies. 

How would you say the role of the economist has developed over the course of your career in competition?

Beyond data crunching, economists now contribute more and more to the big picture of cases, because theories of harm have become firmly grounded in economics. Agencies are now better equipped to handle complex economic evidence, and therefore allow economics to play a more central role in investigations (big or small). Similarly, economic resources deployed by clients in competition matters (including the level of involvement as well as the size of economic consultant teams) have increased significantly, in particular - but not only - in phase II mergers, in which it is essential for merging parties to be able to quickly deploy large teams of fully dedicated economists. Also, economic analysis now plays a critical role not only at certain points in times, but during a longer part of a case life-cycle, for example, from the early feasibility assessment of a potential deal to the competitive assessment of remedies. 

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished? 

I have been very fortunate to work with fantastic colleagues over the years, both as part of the chief economist team at DG Competition and at CRA. Now I am particularly thrilled to see my younger colleagues at CRA grow into accomplished and respected economic consultants, which I am hoping to help them achieve further.

What advice would you give to younger economists starting out in their careers?

Specialise in competition but keep the broader economic perspective in mind and stay close to the latest economic developments, also outside of competition. This is a great way to keep moving and stay at the cutting-edge of the application of economics to competition… and keep it interesting!

Global Leader

Competition - Economists 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

Peers and clients say:

"He is at the top of the game"
"Raphaël is a truly excellent economist"

Biography

Dr. Raphaël De Coninck heads CRA’s Brussels office. Raphaël provides expert economic evidence and testimony in all competition matters, leading teams of economists at the forefront of merger, antitrust and damages analysis. He has worked on many of the landmark European competition cases of the last 15 years, including over 75 mergers and 25 “Phase II” merger investigations, and over 40 abuse of dominance, cartel and damages cases.

Raphaël advises clients on competition matters in front of the European Commission and national authorities, as well as in litigation and in arbitration. In addition to European cases and multi-jurisdictional filings, he has provided expert economic evidence in Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, and regularly works on transatlantic cases in close collaboration with US colleagues.

Raphaël’s experience spans a wide range of products and industries, including in the technology sector, pharmaceuticals, consumer products and retail, transport, telecoms, energy, basic industries, financial services, media and entertainment. While at CRA, he has worked for clients such as leading tech firms, Universal Music Group, Dolby, Pfizer, Novartis, Mylan, Baxter, Abbott, GE, Linde, Novelis, Energizer, Danone, Henkel, L’Oréal, ABF, Ahold Delhaize, Virgin Atlantic, Wallenius, Cable Europe, Canal+, SFR, FIFA, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, private equity firms and the European Commission.

Prior to joining CRA, Raphaël was a member of DG Competition’s chief economist team at the European Commission. While at the Commission, he contributed to major competition policy initiatives, including the European Commission’s Best Practices for Economic Submissions and Data Collection in Merger and Antitrust Cases, and the European Commission’s Practical Guide on the Quantification of Antitrust Damages. Raphaël has published numerous articles on the economics of competition, covering in particular horizontal and non-horizontal mergers, the impact of mergers on innovation, market definition, exclusionary conduct, excessive prices, standard essential patents, bargaining power and antitrust damages estimation.

Raphaël holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago and degrees in law and in economics from the University of Liège, Belgium. He has been a post-doctoral fellow at New York University and taught at the University of Chicago and the Free University of Brussels (ULB).

Raphaël is recognized as one of Europe’s top competition economists by WWL Global Elite, receiving wide praise from clients and peers: “Raphaël De Coninck is a “superb” economist who is recommended for his “really excellent work” when it comes to delivering expert testimony on competition-related merger and damages cases.”

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Raphaël De Coninck’s first-class expertise on competition policy matters spans a spectrum of industries including retail, telecoms and financial services.

Biography

Dr Raphaël De Coninck is a vice president at Charles River Associates (CRA), where he heads the Brussels office. Raphaël has provided expert economic evidence and testimony in numerous high-profile cases covering antitrust and competition matters (including over 60 mergers and 20 Phase II merger investigations, abuses of dominance and cartels), intellectual property and damages quantification. He has advised clients in litigation and regulatory proceedings in front of the European Commission and of national courts and authorities, primarily in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain and Switzerland.

Raphaël’s experience spans a wide range of products and industries, including pharmaceuticals, IT, consumer products and retail, transport, telecoms, energy, basic industries, financial services, media and entertainment. While at CRA, he has worked for clients such as Universal, Google, Dolby, Pfizer, Novartis, Mylan, Abbott, GE, Virgin Atlantic, Danone, Henkel, L’Oréal, ABF, Ahold Delhaize, FIFA, Cable Europe, Canal+, SFR, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and the European Commission.

Prior to joining CRA, Raphaël was a member of DG Competition’s chief economist team at the European Commission. He has published numerous articles and contributed to major competition policy initiatives, including the European Commission’s Practical Guide on the Quantification of Antitrust Damages.

Raphaël received a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago, and degrees in law and in economics from the University of Liège, Belgium. He previously lectured on law and economics at the University of Chicago, held an academic position at New York University School of Law, and is currently teaching competition policy at the Université libre de Bruxelles and at the Brussels School of Competition.

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