Friends Reunited sale referred to Competition Commission

2nd November, 2009

ITV has been left “disappointed” after the Office for Fair Trading raised concerns about its sale of Friends Reunited to Brightsolid Group, and referred the deal to the Competition Commission.

The OFT said it did not believe there would be enough competition in the genealogy market now or in future to prevent the merged company from reducing services or raising prices. The other main competitor in the UK is

The Competition Commission is expected to make its report by 16 April 2010

OFT senior director of mergers Amelia Fletcher said the growing interest in genealogy “made this an increasingly important market”.

“The proposed acquisition would see the three main providers of online genealogy services reduced to two, and we are concerned this could lead to a reduction in choice or service for consumers.”

In a statement to the stock exchange, ITV said it noted the decision and was “disappointed by the outcome”.

“[ITV] will work closely with the Competition Commission and Brightsolid to seek to resolve this process satisfactorily,” it said.

Friends Reunited, which has just under 21 million members, was sold to DC Thompson owned Brightsolid on 6 August for a sum of £25m - subject to clearance by the competition authorities.

It was said the deal would create Britain’s largest genealogy business by bringing together Genes Reunited with and ScotlandsPeople.