A government watchdog has launched an inquiry into the proposed merger between Future and the parent company of Imagine Publishing.
In June, Future announced that it had agreed to buy Miura, the holding company and ultimate parent company of Imagine Publishing, for Future shares representing £14.2m.
The news that Future, which runs Edge magazine, PC Gamer and Official PlayStation and Xbox magazines, wanted to buy Miura, whose Imagine Publishing subsidiary runs GamesTM and Retro Gamer, sparked a number of questions about the future of UK video magazines. Some wondered whether GamesTM, in particular, would continue given it competes directly with Edge magazine.
Now, the deal is pending the result of an inquiry by the Competition and Markets Authority, which regularly looks at mergers that raise competition concerns.
A representative of the CMA told Eurogamer he was unable to comment on the specifics of the case, but did confirm the watchdog has invited comments from customers, suppliers, competitors and other interested parties.
Here's the relevant blurb:
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 and, if so, whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.
The investigation has sparked a survey of Future and Imagine magazine subscribers. Eurogamer reader Ghibli, a long-term subscriber to GamesTM, told me about the survey.
Ghibli said one of the questions asked was if, suddenly, you found the magazine you subscribe to was no longer available, what would you do? A range of answers included buying Edge magazine.
"It was all a bit odd, and as a fan of the magazine, a little concerning," Ghibli said. "Although maybe I should be hopeful, in that they're investigating it and might stop it."
Eurogamer reader Paleface, an Edge subscriber, took part in a similar survey, with the questions re-jigged. Clearly, the CMA is trying to establish to what extent the two markets overlap.
So, what happens now? The CMA's investigation is currently in phase one, during which comments are received. The deadline for the CMA to announce its decision whether to refer the merger for a phase two investigation is 7th October 2016.
The CMA has the power to impose restrictions on firms in merger cases to limit integration of their businesses before clearance. The CMA can also impose penalties of up to 5% of annual turnover on companies that fail to comply with these interim measures.