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Phil Burns

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Phil has been a Director at Frontier Economics since 1999, and provides regulatory, competition, valuation and strategy advice to companies, industry associations, regulators and government departments across a number of sectors.

His work on monopoly regulation, both for clients and in published papers, extends across price cap and sliding scale regulation, yardstick competition, finance issues, comparative efficiency measurement and incentive design. He has worked on many price control reviews across Europe, and in all the major energy price control reviews in the UK since privatisation.

He has also analysed the competitive dynamics of contestable utility markets in the energy and postal sectors to advise on merger, state aid, and abuse cases, as well as options for market opening and market design, and assessment of measures to promote greater customer engagement in retail markets.  Phil brings this experience to bear to assist clients contemplating acquisitions and other strategic initiatives.

Phil has worked on many regulatory reviews across Europe – including developing the pioneering yardstick competition regime in the NL - and virtually all the energy price control reviews in the UK since the sector was privatised.  Recently he has supported Northern Powergrid throughout the RIIO-ED1 price control review. He has also  worked on DPCR5, Ofgem’s RPI-X@20 review, NIE’s price control review, and Phoenix Natural Gas through its regulatory review, he also advised both Phoenix Natural Gas and Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) before the Competition Commission.

Throughout the course of this work he has worked with clients on some of the most of innovative aspects of regulatory design, such as moving towards totex regimes, the development of well-justified business plans, the role of outputs and secondary deliverables, the application of benchmarking in RIIO, investment incentive design and the scope of retrospective action.  He has assisted clients in their regulatory due diligence of regulated assets across Europe.

Markets and competition

Through analysis of the competitive dynamics of energy markets, Phil advises clients on a variety of strategic energy sector issues. He has advised clients contemplating M&A activity in both their market due diligence and in assessing the competitive effects of mergers/acquisitions to inform their regulatory due diligence. He has worked on several merger cases across Europe such as the Veba-Viag and Nuon-Reliant mergers and has advised on State aid cases, such as the British Energy state aid case. He has also analysed the options for market opening and market design (for example, for ESB in Ireland), the impact of low carbon support mechanisms, and measures to promote greater customer engagement in retail energy markets, for example, assessing the impact of Ofgem’s Retail Market Review for Energy UK.  He is currently advising a supplier in the energy sector inquiry to be undertaken by the CMA.

Phil has worked extensively in postal markets over the past 10 years, primarily in the UK and Ireland on a variety of issues including price control design, the cost of the Universal Service Obligation (USO), and on competition issues raised by the liberalisation of postal markets.

He led a comprehensive efficiency review of Royal Mail in 2012, and in 2009 analysed the net cost to Royal Mail of the providing key elements of the USO, which continues to be regarded as an authoritative study.  He worked on several price control reviews in the UK, and is presently advising Comreg on the price control for An Post.

His experience has encompassed all aspects of the regulatory and market environment faced by postal operators including the scope of the price controls based on the design and application of a competition test, which evaluated the impact of e-substitution and other factors driving mail demand; market definition, and dominance assessment; assessment of competitive implications of wider rebalancing limits in price control formulae; evaluation of likely patterns and type of entry into the mail market; and development of the access framework for third party entrants to the market.