The UK Competition Commission has formally cleared the completed acquisition of retail chain Gamestation by larger rival GAME. The merger had been referred to the Commission by the Office of Fair Trading on August 9th, 2007 following concerns that the move could leave GAME without any major rivals in the UK.
The Commission’s final report
is now available online, in which it concludes that the merger “may not be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in the markets for the supply of gaming software, consoles and related accessories in the UK.”
Although this confirms the Commission’s provisional findings
in December there was considerable disagreement over the question of trade-in games and sales of pre-owned games, since the two companies are the only major nationwide chains to deal in that market.
Ultimately the Commission panel was split on a 2:2 vote, with the Chairman casting her vote in favor of final clearance for the acquisition. Under Commission rules, at least two thirds of an inquiry group must decided that a merger is anti-competitive before any action is taken.
The final decision will allow GAME to proceed with the merger, although as previously indicated the Gamestation brand will be maintained and only a limited number of store closures are expected.