Serial Acquisitions and Industry Roll-ups



R‌ead the background note

  6 December 2023  Paris

Serial or industry ‘roll-up’ acquisition strategies happen when a firm acquires and merges multiple smaller companies in the same industry over time and consolidates them into a large, and potentially dominant, company. In some cases, the acquired companies may be horizontal competitors in local markets, as has been observed in sectors such as healthcare, veterinary services and grocery retail. Alternatively, as has occurred prominently in the digital space, a large firm may acquire numerous small or even nascent companies providing complementary goods and services, and the acquisition may be part of a strategy to broaden an ecosystem and strengthen the ‘moat’ around its core products and services at national or even global level.

The serial acquisition phenomenon has spurred debate around consolidation risks and the potential need for increased scrutiny of such transactions. However, despite this, only few jurisdictions’ merger regimes appear to explicitly address serial acquisitions.

In December 2023 the OECD held a roundtable to shed light on the scope and magnitude of this issue, including whether serial acquisition strategies are more prominent and/or more problematic in certain sectors, markets and economies, and if so, why. Further, it considered the potential for serial acquisitions to cause competitive harms and the facilitate an exchange of views on whether existing merger regimes can adequately address them or, alternatively, whether there is an enforcement gap.

Key takeways include:

  • Competition authorities noted the growth in serial acquisitions in a range of sectors, including the increasing presence of private equity acquirers in some jurisdictions.
  • Some authorities considered there was a potential for serial acquisitions to evade scrutiny under their current merger regimes.
  • A number of jurisdictions have sought legislative reforms or are using tools beyond merger control to address serial acquisitions.


See the full list of best practice roundtables on competition.


Sha'ista Goga Bio  
Director, Acacia Economics

Ioannis Kokkoris Bio  
Chair in Competition Law and Economics and Director, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London

Anna Tzanaki Bio  
Lecturer in Law, University of Leeds


OECD Background Note | Note de référence de l'OCDE

Detailed Summary of the discussion EN | FR

Executive Summary with key findings EN | FR


Contributions from delegations



Costa Rica








Slovak Republic

South Africa



United States 


Summaries of contributions


Related material

Disentangling Consummated Mergers – Experiences and Challenges (2022)

Start-ups, killer acquisitions and merger control (2020)

Investigations of consummated and non-notifiable mergers (2014)

Definition of transaction for the purpose of merger control review, Competition Policy Roundtables (2013)

Economic Evidence in Merger Analysis - Competition Policy Roundtable - OECD (2011)

Substantive Criteria Used for the Assessment of Mergers (2002)

See also

OECD best practice roundtables on competition

More OECD work on competition


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