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Abstract: The threat of entry is an important factor in the evaluation of the potential competitive effects of proposed mergers and acquisitions. In the evaluation of proposed bank mergers, a high probability of entry, or strong potential competition, is often found to mitigate the potential anticompetitive effect of a proposed horizontal merger. Because the probability of entry is not directly observed for each local market, variables such as per capita income, population growth and past entry are typically used to predict the probability of future entry. This study extends previous research on the determinants of entry into local banking markets. In addition to variables considered by past research, such as market demographic characteristics, branching deregulation and past merger activity, this study considers the effects on future entry of past entry and strategic barriers to entry, which are proxied by changes in incumbent branching, the presence of small incumbent firms and market concentration. The analysis uses data that allow a broader definition of entry than that used in most past research. In most of the previous studies, bank entry is defined as the creation of a new banking institution. We show that this definition is problematic and misses entry due to branch network extension by existing banks, which is substantial. Results of our analysis are consistent with past research where past research exists. In addition, we find significant negative relationships between strategic barriers to entry and entry. Assessment of the quantitative significance of the results, however, finds that very large changes in the explanatory variables are needed to cause substantial changes in the probability of entry into banking markets.

Keywords: Banking, industrial organization, entry, competition

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