OFT mulls competition referral over Trinity sell-off

The Office of Fair Trading is considering referring the sale of eight Berkshire newspapers from Trinity Mirror to Dunfermline Press to the Competition Commission.

It announced today that a referral would be made ‘if satisfactory undertakings are not given”.

The deal would give Dunfermline control of the only two local newspapers in the Slough/Windsor/Eton area – ending close competition between the Observer and Express series of newspapers.

Only one out of the eight acquired Berkshire newspaper titles creates a ‘problematic overlap”, the OFT said.

Senior director of mergers Simon Pritchard said: ‘In an obvious case like this, our aim will still be to spare the costs of reference while restoring the benefits of competition lost by the merger. We owe it to consumers to make clear-cut remedies the preferred exception to reference in all suitable cases. Equally, UK business has strongly encouraged the OFT to solve cases via undertakings in lieu, and clarity on this issue helps companies plan merger activity with the right incentives in mind.”

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