Friday 28 February 2014

OFT kicks off investigation into Guardian-backed fashion merger

Here is an interesting little story about a company backed by the Guardian Media Group.

I hear Top Right Group's acquisition of US fashion forecaster Stylesight is now being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Top Right Group, which is co-owned by private equity giant Apax and the Guardian, bought Stylesight for around $60m last November. Here is the link to my original story: 

Top Right Group, formerly known as Emap, was planning to merge Stylesight with its own online fashion forecaster WGSN.

However, a spokesperson for the OFT has just confirmed to me the regulator's investigation has begun. "We are investigating the merger of WGSN and Stylesight," said the OFT spokesperson.

I'm not quite sure what will happen if the OFT takes the view that the merger "substantially lessens competition" but I guess WGSN and Top Right Group might be forced to sell some or all of Stylesight.

This wouldn't be the first time the competition authorities have forced Top Right Group to shelve a deal.

A couple of years ago Top Right Group tried to sell political intelligence company De Havilland to Dods, whose largest shareholder was conservative peer Lord Ashcroft.

The deal made a lot of sense because both De Havilland and Dods monitor political issues and provide polling, events and publications to public sector and private companies.

But Dods had to give up on the £12.8m acquisition of De Havilland after the OFT referred the deal to the Competition Commission.

I wonder whether the OFT will do the same with Top Right Group's purchase of Stylesight?


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