Sílvia is LCA’s director of competition economics, IBRAC’s director of economics and an NGA at ICN. Sílvia holds a PhD in economics from FGV. Her thesis on competition policy won first prize at the awards sponsored by the Ministry of Finance. Sílvia was a visiting scholar at Columbia University between 2011 and 2012, where she researched antitrust and regulatory matters, and served as a visiting professor. She has also served as a professor at FGV and FIPE.
Describe your career to date.
Since my first internship as a scholar at the University of São Paulo, I have been pursuing investigations of competition issues, mainly in cases related to the food and retail sectors. For nearly 17 years, I have been working at LCA, concentrating mainly on antitrust and merger cases. Besides this, I occasionally work on diversified topics related to microeconomics and industrial organisation, such as market intelligence models, international trade, regulation and public policy issues. I have been able to reconcile consulting work with my academic activities, which include research related to my PhD at Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV), a sabbatical spent at Columbia University (New York) as visiting scholar, and professorships at FGV and FIPE. Combining both types of activities turned out to be very productive, one considerably enriching the other. I was delighted when my PhD thesis (supervised by Professor Paulo Furquim) won first prize at the awards sponsored by the Ministry of Finance. More recently, as a director for IBRAC and an NGA at ICN, I was given further opportunities to not only contribute, but also amass further knowledge on competition policy related to economic issues, in both Brazil and other jurisdictions.
What do you enjoy most about working as a competition economist?
It is possible to really apply economic theory and discuss it deeply, interacting with different perspectives of the same microeconomic issue. It is very enriching to add the authorities’ and companies’ views, while also complementing them with a legal framework, applying perspectives provided by the lawyers.
How has your research concerning competition policy influenced your practice?
In my PhD thesis, I highlighted that, under some specific circumstances, a presumed cartel may benefit consumers if it creates countervailing power. So, from an economic perspective, even the most consolidated practice (such as considering cartel cases as per se anticompetitive conduct) can be challenged. It was also an opportunity to deeply discuss regulatory and competition issues related to the healthcare sector – knowledge that has become very important in various merger and conduct cases I have had the chance to take part in.
What is the most interesting case you have been a part of?
The Google Shopping case, one of the highest-profile conduct cases in Brazil and other jurisdictions. This entailed a seven-year investigation; there was strong use of economic evidence, and intense interaction with the Department of Economic Studies when economic arguments were decisive for CADE to dismiss the case. It was a great opportunity to deeply discuss major antitrust issues related to digital and platform markets.
It is also worth mentioning the complex and multi-jurisdictional merger cases I’ve worked on, such as Disney/Fox (TV broadcasting), Suzano/Fibria (pulp) and Bayer/Monsanto (chemicals and seeds), which demanded intense economic assessment and alignment regarding market dynamism and/or remedy design.
How do you most effectively work with your team at LCA in complex merger cases?
We use teamwork, applying a great deal of discussion of economic arguments among economists from varied backgrounds, as well as expertise in competition policy, to address issues from various perspectives. We are a structured and cooperative team, with more than 20 economists focused on competition matters – which is very important for us, in order to engage in different complex and demanding cases, and enrich our accumulated experience as private practitioners.
How can gender inequality be addressed in the Brazilian competition space?
The business environment reflects our culture: gender inequality within the competition space doesn’t differ much from that in another legal and economic workplaces. To tackle gender inequality, it’s important to promote debate and raise awareness of this matter and, most importantly, enforce changes to all obstacles for women, so as to facilitate the same opportunities and recognition of an “as-efficient” male colleague. These practices aim to stop or, at least, reduce gender inequality in the workplace.
How would you like to develop your practice over the next five years?
Markets and competition dynamics have been undergoing fast changes, which present them important challenges to antitrust assessment – especially those that come from global business activities. Further to the growth posted by digital markets, it will be very important to intensify the use of economic evidence, and benefit from technological advances and broader data availability, allowing for the use of more sophisticated and complex tools. It will be both challenging and gratifying to increasingly work on multi-jurisdictional cases, with new market complexities. It will also serve as an opportunity to enrich Brazilian investigations with international experience and the use of a more diversified set of approaches and tools for antitrust analysis.
Sílvia Fagá de Almeida “has a lot of respect” from sources who note she is “very technical” and “a preferred economist by far”.
Silvia holds a PhD degree in economics from São Paulo School of Economics – Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV). Her thesis concerned competition policy, analysing empirically the concept of countervailing power and the Brazilian healthcare sector. The research was granted first prize in the award sponsored by the secretariat for economic monitoring of the Ministry of Finance. In the academic year 2011–2012, Silvia was a visiting scholar at the Institute of Latin American Studies, Columbia University (NY), where she researched antitrust and regulatory matters of the healthcare sector and served as a visiting professor for the graduate course on the history of the Brazilian economy.
Silvia is currently LCA’s director in competition economics, with expertise in sectoral economics, and extensive experience in public policy, regulation, commercial defence and the requirements of antitrust authorities. Sílvia and LCA team advised Google in the most recent high profile Brazilian conduct cases: the search engine probe – which, after seven years of intense investigation, has eventually been closed.
Regarding recent merger cases, it is worth mentioning Vale-Ferrous, Itau Unibanco-Ticket, and important multijurisdictional deals such as Disney's acquisition of Fox, and the acquisition of Fibria by Suzano. Sílvia was also involved in the economic team that advised the parts towards the settlement reached in the ArcelorMittal/Votorantim (steel), Bayer/Monsanto (chemical and seeds), JV SBT/Record/RedeTV (TV broadcast), CSN/Usiminas (steel), DASA/MD1 (healthcare), Camargo Corrêa/Cimpor (cement) and Oxiteno/American Chemical. The last two cases have been nominated at the third and fourth GCR annual awards, for the Merger Control Matter of the Year (Americas). In 2015, at the fifth awards ceremony, LCA’s team won an award for the Anhanguera/Kroton merger (education).
She was also professor of microeconomics and industrial organisation at São Paulo School of Economics – Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) and at Fundação Instituto de Pesquisas Econômicas (FIPE). Sílvia is an officer in charge of economic issues at IBRAC, Brazil's main professional body for competition practitioners.