The UK’s competition watchdog has begun to investigate the Daily Mail and General Trust’s acquisition of the i newspaper.
DMGT, which owns the Mail and Metro titles, bought JPI Media Publications – the national arm of the company that does not include any of JPI’s regional titles – in a £49.6m deal last week.
The Competition Markets Authority said today it “is investigating the completed acquisition” and revealed it has served an initial enforcement order, also known as a “hold separate” order, on DMGT and its publishing arm DMG Media under the Enterprise Act 2002.
The order, the full text of which will be published in the coming days, prevents the i from being integrated into DMGT until the CMA’s investigations are complete.
DMGT said last week it was anticipating the acquisition would be reviewed by the CMA.
It said that while this takes place, the i “may have to be ‘held separate’ and run independently of the rest of DMGT but we would still expect to be able to realise synergies over time”.
The i editor Oliver Duff said: “During any review by CMA, i will be ‘held separate’ from new and old owners, run by i managing director Richard Thomson with i editor-in-chief Oly Duff.
“During that period will continue to publish brilliant JPI Media journalism and draw on support from JPI colleagues as before.”
The investigation is now in a “pre-notification” period during which all the parties must supply all the information required by the watchdog before a formal phase one inquiry can begin.
There is no set deadline for this, but once the inquiry has formally begin the CMA will have 40 working days to decide whether the deal results in a “realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition”.
If so, it will launch a further, more in-depth assessment of up to five months.