The takeover of online store Merlin.pl by NFI Empik, the owner of Empik, one of the biggest bookstore chains and online store in Poland has been blocked by UOKiK.

UOKiK ruled that the takeover would limit competition in the national online retail market for non-specialist books, music CDs and in national market for purchasing non-specialist books.

This decision reflected the results of UOKiK’s largest-ever market survey covering more that 1100 publishers, distributors, online stores, and other businesses.

UOKiK decided that competitors would not compete effectively with the merged Empik and Merlin business if the takeover were allowed to proceed. They are both among the biggest players in their respective markets, whilst their competitors have significantly lower market shares.

UOKiK’s view was that the takeover would adversely affect publishers as Empik already dictated the terms on which it was willing to cooperate with them.

UOKiK very rarely issues negative decisions: this is only the sixth decision prohibiting a merger since 2004. In 2010, UOKiK issued 150 decisions none of which was negative (although conditions were imposed in two cases).

The decision is not final. NFI Empik has a right of appeal to the Court for Competition and Consumer Protection.