The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is looking into the completed acquisition by MediaCom North of the businesses and certain assets of Brilliant Media.
The acquisition of the media buying agency, which had offices in Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, took place in December.
The OFT has now issued an Invitation to Comment notice that will begin its merger investigation into the acquisition by MediaCom North into that of Brilliant Media.
The OFT has requested comments on competition or public interest issues to be made by 10 February. A decision is expected by 23 March 2012.
A spokesperson for the OFT, told The Drum that they would be aiming to answer two questions – whether the deal represents a relevant merger situation under the enterprise act, should the value of the company taken over exceeds £70 million, and whether as a result of the transaction, more than 25% share in the UK is created or enhanced.
The second question the OFT will aim to answer is whether the deal maybe expect to result in a substantial lessening of competition.
Four outcomes from the investigation are possible; that OFT will decide that it doesn’t have jurisdiction, in which it will issue a ‘Found Not Qualified’ notice, the deal could be cleared, the OFT could believe that there is a substantial lessening of competition and refer the matter to the Competition Commission for a second phase review, or it can begin undertakings in lieu of a reference to the Competition Commission.
The second phase investigation by the Competition Commission will take up to 24 weeks, and should the investigation find against the deal, it will examine what remedies are available or begin to ‘unpick’ the deal.
The OFT has now confirmed to The Drum that it started this investigation on its own initiative, rather than it stemming from a complaint.