Sunday 19 January 2020

Watchdog will probe 'Daily Star' deal further

Irish Daily Star
Irish Daily Star

Gavin McLoughlin

Ireland's competition watchdog is to carry out a more detailed examination of the planned purchase of a company that owns 50pc of the 'Irish Daily Star'.

The company behind the 'Daily Mirror' is looking to buy the stake as part of its acquisition of the 'Daily Express'.

The Express has for some years owned 50pc of the 'Irish Daily Star' newspaper, with the remained being owned by Independent News & Media (INM), which publishes the Irish Independent and other titles.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) said yesterday that it would carry out a so-called Phase 2 investigation into the deal.

"The CCPC's role in reviewing mergers and acquisitions is to ensure that a proposed transaction does not substantially lessen competition in any market for goods or services in the State," it said.

"Following a preliminary investigation, the CCPC has determined that further analysis is required to establish if the proposed transaction could lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any market for goods or services in the State."

The CCPC didn't specify precisely what it was concerned about but the acquisition of the stake in the Star is likely to be a focus, as the Express sells fewer than 3,000 copies a day here, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations figures.

Reach plc, which owns the Mirror, did not respond to a request for comment. INM declined to comment.

The investigation may result in the deal being cleared entirely, or else the CCPC may ask for certain undertakings if is to be allowed to proceed.

That could potentially include asset disposals but there is no indication that this is on the horizon as of yet. The CCPC said it had until October 23 to make a decision on the proposal and invited interested parties to make submissions.

The deal was approved by regulators in the UK last month. Media Secretary Matt Hancock said he accepted regulators' opinions that the deal did "not give rise to a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition" and did not raise concerns about the range of views and the free expression of opinion in Britain's newspapers. Reach announced the deal in February, saying the enlarged group would be better positioned to cope with advertisers and readers moving online. (Additional reporting Reuters)

Irish Independent

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