Archant's acquisition of 27 weekly newspapers in the London region, formerly owned by Independent News and Media plc, has been cleared by the Competition Commission (CC).
London acquisition gets green light
The CC has concluded that the merger would not lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the market for advertising in those areas affected by the takeover.
Archant chief executive John Fry said: "We are pleased that the CC listened to advertisers who felt that this acquisition was a positive move and recognised that London is a rapidly changing market with a high degree of competition from a range of printed and internet media. We are now free to address these competitive issues.
"We are delighted that our new colleagues based in London can look forward to stability after more than a year of uncertainty. The business can now address the needs of the market."
The newspapers acquired by Archant (in two stages straddling the December 29 implementation date of the Communications Act 2003) cover areas of north-west, north and east London, Essex and north-west Kent-some paid for and some free.
Chairman of the inquiry group and Deputy Chairman of the CC, Peter Freeman said: "We have looked carefully at the areas affected and concluded that this merger does not give rise to significant competition concerns.
"Even in those areas where Archant's market share would be at its largest, we found there was insufficient evidence to establish that Archant would have enough market power to raise prices profitably by an amount that would cause concern, either across the board or on a targeted basis.
"This result stems from our analysis of specific markets in London and would not necessarily apply to local newspaper mergers in other parts of the country. "
The full report is available on the CC's web site at: www.competition-commission.org.uk