On 2 November 2009, the Office of Fair Trading (“OFT”) decided to refer the anticipated acquisition of Friends Reunited Holdings Limited (“Friends Reunited”) by Brightsolid Group Limited (“Brightsolid”) to the Competition Commission (“CC”) for further investigation.
Friends Reunited and Brightsolid are two of the three largest suppliers of online genealogy services in the UK, the market leader being Ancestry.co.uk. The OFT, having analysed the extent of direct competition between the parties, the level of competition provided by smaller companies and the possibility of future entry or expansion in the market, felt that current competition in the market was not sufficiently safeguarded if the proposed merger went ahead. The OFT considered that as the acquisition would see three of the main providers for online genealogy services reduced to two, there may be the possibility of the merged entity reducing the quality or range of its services, or possibly raising prices. The OFT, therefore, considered that a referral to the CC was required in order for a fuller investigation to be carried out.
129/09 – 2 November 2009