Landmark Media deal delayed but on track

The chief executive of Landmark Media said he expects the competition and competition watchdog to approve the purchase of the Irish Examiner group which includes the Evening Echo, as well as regional titles and radio stations, in the near future.

Tom Murphy said Landmark and The Irish Times remained committed to the deal.

The proposed acquisition of the Landmark media group by the Irish Times was agreed in recent months and went to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for approval.

The publishing and media interests of the Landmark Media group

The regulator said following a preliminary investigation it had extended its investigation of the deal into a Phase 2 round, and would make its final ruling at the latest by August 1.

That deadline could be extended if it were formally to issue a request for further information, it said.

However, Mr Murphy said Landmark and The Irish Times had “re-affirmed their commitment to concluding the transaction”.

He said the extension by the regulator while “a little disappointing” was “not wholly unexpected”.

“I would be very hopeful it would be approved before August 1 on the basis of the straightforward nature of the transaction,” he said.

In a statement, the commission said its Phase 2 investigation involved The Irish Times proposed acquisition through Sappho Limited.

“The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s role in reviewing mergers and acquisitions is to ensure that proposed transactions do not substantially lessen competition in any market for goods or services in the state.

“Following a preliminary investigation, the commission has determined that further analysis is required to establish if the proposed transaction could lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any market for goods or services in the state.

“The commission must make a final decision on the proposed transaction on or before the 1st August 2018. This deadline may, however, change if the commission issues a requirement for information,” the regulator said.

The proposed acquisition involves the Irish Examiner and irishexaminer.com; and the Evening Echo and eveningecho.ie.

It also includes regional papers, the Laois Nationalist; Kildare Nationalist; Carlow Nationalist; Western People; Waterford News and Star; and the Roscommon Herald.

The deal also involves: breakingnews.ie; recruitIreland.com; benchwarmers.ie; and radio stations, Beat 102-103 and WLR FM.


 

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