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FriendsReunited sale cleared

Dennis the Menace not a competition concern

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The Competition Commission has cleared ITV's sale of FriendsReunited to Brightsolid - a subsidiary of DC Thomson the publisher of the Beano.

The competition concerns were not about comics but genealogy - Brightsolid owns find my past.com and the 1911 census site while FriendsReunited runs Genes reunited. Combining the two companies means two out of the three largest UK genealogy sites have one owner.

But the regulator said that the deal could improve competition by forcing the number one site - ancestry.co.uk - to pull its socks up in the face of stronger competition.

Laura Carstensen. chairman of the inquiry, said online genealogy was a fast growing business with two million UK citizens visiting a family history site every month.

She 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, Ancestry.co.uk, 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."

The Commission was asked to investigate in November by the Office of Fair Trading, it will publish the complete report in April.

Full statement here.

FriendsReunited was a darling of the first dot-com bubble but struggled to find an effective business model. Its main function was then subsumed by the likes of Facebook and other social networking sites. ®

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