Nicholas Hill is an expert in antitrust issues and has worked on matters in a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, chemicals, airlines, health insurance, banking, paper, milk, beer, and pharmaceuticals. He has served as an economic expert for private clients, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission. He developed a capacity closure model that is now often used by the agencies and practitioners to analyze mergers in commodity industries with high fixed costs of production. Prior to joining Bates White, Dr. Hill served as assistant section chief in the Economic Analysis Group of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, and was an Economist in the Bureau of Economics at the Federal Trade Commission.
PhD, Economics, Johns Hopkins University
MsC, Quantitative Development Economics, University of Warwick
BA, Economics and International Studies, University of Warwick
Chemical industry experience
- Testified on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission in the agency’s litigation over the proposed merger between Tronox and Cristal, two top suppliers of chloride process titanium dioxide.
- Led the pre-litigation analysis of economic issues on the proposed merger of Halliburton and Baker Hughes. This sprawling matter included a massive number of product markets, each of which had a unique story. The team won a US Antitrust Division Award of Distinction.
Consumer products experience
- Analyzed competition on three separate investigations in the beer industry: Miller-Coors, InBev-Anheuser Busch, and ABI-Grupo Modelo. The InBev-Anheuser Busch matter led to the divestiture of the Labatt’s brand despite the fact that Labatt’s national market share was miniscule, a recognition of the economic evidence that beer markets are local (Labatt’s was popular in parts of upstate New York). Similarly, economic analysis supported the divestiture of the Grupo Modelo brands in the United States, and this was the outcome of the matter.
- Analyzed fluid milk and school milk competition in the DOJ Antitrust Division's litigation to undo Dean Foods' acquisition of the Foremost Farm milk-processing assets. Key contributions included writing a series of memos that helped develop the theory of harm and laid out when and how efficiencies created by the deal would be passed through to consumers. This work was recognized as the best written work in the DOJ Economic Analysis Group in 2009–2010.
- Prepared declaration for the Federal Trade Commission analyzing the proposed merger between Jostens and American Achievement Corporation, two of the three largest makers of high school and college class rings. The Commission issued a complaint seeking to block the merger, charging that the proposed merger would likely be anticompetitive and led to higher prices and reduced service. The parties abandoned their merger plans. This work was recognized with a Federal Trade Commission Certificate of Appreciation.
- Led the FTC’s economic analysis of Service Corporation International’s acquisition of Stewart Enterprises, two large owners of funeral homes and cemeteries. The case involved an enormous number of geographic markets, and interesting product market questions, including whether cremation-only firms compete closely with funeral homes.
- Worked on the FTC’s investigation of Pinnacle’s acquisition of Ameristar’s casinos. Wrote a memo that analyzed key economic issues on market definition and provided answers using simple econometric tools. Summarized the economic aspects of the investigation before the full Commission.
- Managed the economics team on the Antitrust Division’s successful litigation to block the proposed merger between Aetna and Humana. Helped prepare the testimony and reports of the Division’s economic, industry, divestiture, and efficiencies experts. The team won a US Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service.
- Analyzed the acquisition by Novartis of GSK’s oncology drugs and GSK’s acquisition of Novartis’s vaccine division (excluding influenza assets) for the FTC. Novartis agreed to divest its BRAK and MEK inhibitors assets to secure FTC approval of the deal. At the time of the transaction, GSK marketed a BRAK inhibitor, a MEK inhibitor, and a combination therapy, all of which were used to treat late-stage melanoma. Novartis had BRAK and MEK inhibitors, as well as a combination therapy, at a late stage of development. GSK’s acquisition of Novartis vaccine assets was approved without condition.
- Provided economic analysis of Sun Pharmaceutical’s acquisition of Ranbaxy Laboratories. Both firms manufactured generic drugs for sale in the United States. Sun agreed to divest Ranbaxy’s generic minocycline business to ensure approval of the deal by the FTC. The case turned on future competition: Ranbaxy produced various strength minocycline tablets and Sun was a likely future producer.
Pulp and paper industry experience
- Retained by a forest products company to provide analysis of the likely competitive impact of its proposed merger with another forest products company.
- In United States v. Abitibi Consolidated, Inc., prepared and submitted declaration in a Tunney Act proceeding. Argued that the relief that the settlement the DOJ obtained in the Abitibi-Bowater case was in the public interest. Declaration cited repeatedly in the judge’s opinion, ruling in favor of the DOJ. This work was recognized as the best litigation work in the DOJ Economic Analysis Group in 2008–2009.
- Provided economic analysis for the Antitrust Division on three separate paper mergers: Abitibi-Bowater, Graphic Packaging-Altivity, and International Paper-Temple Inland. In the course of these investigations, developed the capacity closure model, which is a dominant-firm merger simulation. It weighs a dominant firm’s incentive to increase price by closing mills (i.e., the additional margin it can earn on its mills that remain open) against the cost of such closures (i.e., lost profits at the closed mills). The model requires only data that are commonly available in the paper industry and can easily accommodate the effect of efficiencies and competitor supply responses. This work was recognized as the best theory work in the DOJ Economic Analysis Group in 2007–2008.
Retail banking experience
- Retained by First Financial and MainSource to provide competitive analysis in conjunction with their proposed merger.
- Led the economic analysis of all banking matters before the DOJ Antitrust Division, including the mergers of Huntington-First Merit and KeyCorp-First Niagara, among others. Also oversaw the economic analysis of the merger between subprime lenders Springleaf and OneMain.
- Managed the economics team on the Antitrust Division’s investigation into the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. A key area of focus was how increasing the size of an MVPD affects the fees that it pays to programmers. The team used a combination of empirical and theoretical analysis to answer this question and to answer the related question of whether large Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can charge higher interconnection fees than smaller ISPs. The team won a US Antitrust Division Award of Distinction.
- Oversaw the Antitrust Division’s economic analysis on its investigation into the Charter-Time Warner Cable merger. The merger was approved with conditions designed to protect OVDs.
- Retained by two parties in the transportation industry to analyze the likely competitive impact of their proposed merger.
- Oversaw the economic analysis of the Antitrust Division’s litigation to block the proposed sale of slots at Newark Airport from Delta to United. The economic team used empirical analysis to support the proposed market definition (which defined Newark Airport as a separate geographic market), to measure the likely competitive effects, and to evaluate the parties’ efficiency claims. The team won a US Antitrust Division Award of Distinction.
- Oversaw the Department of Justice’s economic analysis on a number of matters involving trucks and trailers. On Ritchie Brothers’ acquisition of IronPlanet, this included wrestling with the extent to which different selling mechanisms compete with one another, specifically, online auctions and physical auctions. Product and geographic market issues, meanwhile, took center stage in Big Tex’s acquisition of fellow trailer manufacturer ATW.