ITV's Friends Reunited sale cleared

Thursday, March 18 2010, 10:18 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

ITV has been given final clearance for its 25 million sale of Friends Reunited to Brightsolid Group after monopoly concerns were dismissed.

Last November, the Office of Fair Trading asked the Competition Commission to investigate the proposed sale over fears that it would create an overly dominant player in the online genealogy market.

Friends Reunited and Brightsolid - which owns the websites and - are two of the three biggest online genealogy providers in the UK.

After giving its provisional approval last month, the Competition Commission has today ruled that the deal "poses no threat to customers of online genealogy services".

Competition Commission deputy chairman Laura Carsetensen, who led the inquiry, said: "We found that while there is a degree of overlap in the activities of the two companies, it is small and their business models are different, and in the absence of the merger would be likely to remain so.

"After the merger, another website,, will remain the largest supplier in this market and its presence, along with potential entry by new suppliers and the alternatives provided by free sites, will ensure that the merged company faces strong competition -preventing it from raising prices or worsening the service it provides."

She added: "In fact, the merger could potentially benefit amateur family historians as the merged company will be better equipped to compete directly with, leading to more innovation and improvements in the market."

ITV paid 120m in 2005 to acquire Friends Reunited, along with its sister site Genes Reunited, but it confirmed the cut-price sale last August.