Competition Commission clears £25m sale of Friends Reunited

LONDON - The Competition Commission has provisionally cleared DC Thomson-owned Brightsolid's £25m purchase of Friends Reunited from ITV after deciding the merger poses no threat to customers of online genealogy services.

Friends Reunited: Competition Commission clears sale
Friends Reunited: Competition Commission clears sale

Brightsolid, with its websites FindMyPast.com and 1911census.com, and Friends Reunited's GenesReunited.com are two of the largest suppliers of online genealogy services in the UK.

Laura Carstensen, chairman of the inquiry group and deputy chairman of the Competition Commission, said it had "looked closely at how the merger might effect competition in this market and the interests of this growing number of customers".

The inquiry found that while there is a degree of overlap in the activities of the two companies, it is small, their business models are different and another website, Ancestry.co.uk, will remain the largest supplier in the market.

Carstensen said the merger could benefit amateur family historians as the merged company will be "better equipped to compete directly with Ancestry.co.uk, leading to more innovation and improvements in the market".

The Commission is expected to publish its final report on the sale by 16 April and would like to hear comments on the provisional findings from interested parties by 11 March 2010.

ITV announced it was to sell Friends Reunited in August 2009 but the case was referred to the Competition by the Office of Fair Trading in November.

At the time ITV said it was "disappointed" by this outcome, but would "work closely" with the Competition and Brightsolid to resolve the matter.

ITV loses £145m in the sale of Friends Reunited as it originally bought the online property for £120m in cash and a three-year performance-based earn-out deal worth up to £55m in 2005.

The site was supposed to be part of ITV's push into social networking but it found itself overtaken by free websites such as MySpace and Facebook.

ITV's 2009 full year results are due on 3 March and yesterday a spokesman from ITV confirmed ITV is working with business strategy firm LEK Consulting.

In January ITV announced the appointment of Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier as its new chief executive following a protracted recruitment process.

Have your say...

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Media Week Jobs
Search for more media jobs

Latest

UKTV backs on-demand service with animated campaign

UKTV backs on-demand service with animated campaign

UKTV is supporting the launch of UKTV Play, its new video-on-demand service, with an animated campaign.

Share
Johnston Press appoints BBC's Terry McGrath as brand director

Johnston Press appoints BBC's Terry McGrath as brand director

Johnston Press has appointed the BBC marketer Terry McGrath to the newly created role of senior director of brand and product marketing.

Share
It's time media tapped into the bikegeist

It's time media tapped into the bikegeist

From scoops and splashes to commutes and sportives, media is now at the centre of the 'bikegeist', says Newsworks' chief executive, Rufus Olins.

Share

Get news by email