Last week, it was revealed private equity firm Mercury Capital had binned its plan to buy Bauer Media amidst a stand-off between Bauer, Seven’s Pacific Magazines and the ACCC.
According to reports last week, Mercury’s buyout would have only proceeded had the Pacific deal gone ahead and now, Bauer Media’s Australian CEO Brendon Hill is urging the ACCC to allow the takeover of Seven’s Pacific Magazines, as reported on The Oz.
Although Hill was confident the deal would have been given the go-ahead by the end of last year, the ACCC is still currently reviewing the potential merger after it voiced concerns over the lessening of “competitive tension” should the deal be approved.
The ACCC’s initial report cited online competition as an issue, with Hill telling The Oz he was surprised the consumer watchdog saw competition between Woman’s Day, New Idea, That’s Life and Take 5 as “the market”.
“The market is much wider … they spend all the money on the digital platform inquiries and proved that we’re not alone operating in our own market. The market is hugely wider than that,” he said.
Hill added that competition was more likely to be threatened if the deal did not go ahead because some titles may close as a result.
Another concern of the ACCC is the risk of price rises and a decline in the quality of magazines.
Hill said he was “surprised” that the watchdog said those were compelling reasons for the ACCC to put a pin in the merger, adding that Bauer was “working hard on that” and had economists working on both sides trying to prove it “very difficult to increase prices, no matter what”.
He also refuted the idea that the Pac Mags takeover would result in the shutting of former Pacific titles.
Hill said at the heart of the deal, it’s all about the “sustainability of the business”, suggesting the merger would “keep things going for much longer” than if operating separately.
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