CMA launches investigation into Daily Mail owner's acquisition of i

i: acquisition by Daily Mail owner being investigated by CMA
i: acquisition by Daily Mail owner being investigated by CMA

DMGT already said it expected competition watchdog to review deal.

The Competition & Markets Authority is launching an investigation into the Daily Mail publisher’s acquisition of i, as it considers whether the deal abides by competition rules.

The news comes a week after Daily Mail and General Trust announced that it was buying the i from JPIMedia for £49.6m. In its announcement, the publisher anticipated that the deal was likely to be reviewed by the CMA.

The CMA has now issued a merger enquiry into the acquisition, with notice of an initial enforcement order – a standard practice for the watchdog – and said it would be shortly providing more detail.

An initial enforcement order can be imposed on mergers and acquisitions as a pre-emptive measure to stop any action from taking place. It can also potentially reverse the integration of the companies.

DMGT chairman Lord Rothermere last week described the purchase as "strategically and financially compelling" and insisted that the i would retain its "independent editorial style" under new ownership.

It was an interesting and surprising move for many observers. DMGT's flagship Daily Mail is a title with politics at odds with those of its new stablemate.

DMGT yesterday reported a 2% increase in overall revenue for the full year ending 30 September and a 4% increase in ad revenue across the group.

Before the acquisition, JPIMedia had been struggling, although the i itself had performed strongly. The title has retail sales of about 170,000 copies every weekday and more than 190,000 copies of the weekend edition on Saturdays, while attracts about 300,000 daily unique browsers. In 2018, the generated £11m in cash operating income from revenue of £34m.

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