Watch­dog casts doubts over Ex­pe­rian ac­qui­si­tion

Yorkshire Post - Business - - NEWS / BUSINESS -

The UK’s com­pe­ti­tion watch­dog has said Ex­pe­rian’s ac­qui­si­tion of Clearscore could pose a threat to com­pe­ti­tion, as it un­veiled the pro­vi­sional find­ings of a probe into the merger.

The Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­kets Au­thor­ity (CMA), which re­ferred the deal for an in-depth probe in July, said it could re­duce com­pe­ti­tion in the credit com­par­i­son and check­ing mar­kets.

It is feared that a com­bi­na­tion of the two com­pa­nies could re­duce their in­cen­tives to in­no­vate or re­duce prices, lead­ing con­sumers to pay more for credit cards and loans.

Ex­pe­rian said in a state­ment that it was “dis­ap­pointed” with the out­come.

“We con­tinue to strongly be­lieve that the ac­qui­si­tion of ClearScore will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on com­pe­ti­tion, al­low­ing Ex­pe­rian to help more con­sumers with their fi­nances by pro­vid­ing greater choice and con­ve­nience to them to ac­cess per­sonal fi­nance prod­ucts at the best prices,” the com­pany said.

“We also be­lieve we will be able in­no­vate more and bet­ter through the com­bi­na­tion of the par­ties’ com­ple­men­tary as­sets and in­no­va­tion cul­tures.”

The CMA has now in­vited com­ments on the find­ings ahead of a De­cem­ber 19 dead­line. It must make a fi­nal de­ci­sion by March 11, 2019. Ex­pe­rian said it would con­tinue to work with the CMA and seek to ad­dress its con­cerns.

The watch­dog also said on Wed­nes­day that the only ef­fec­tive rem­edy for its com­pe­ti­tion con­cerns was pro­hi­bi­tion of the merger.

The reg­u­la­tor typ­i­cally sug­gests reme­dies such as re­struc­tur­ing or dis­pos­als which would al­low deals to go ahead.

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