Last month the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced its concerns that the proposed acquisition by The Original Bowling Company Ltd (TOBC) of Bowlplex Ltd (Bowlplex) may result in a substantial lessening of competition. The CMA’s competition concerns focus on 6 areas where the companies both run ten-pin bowling facilities – Bristol, Bracknell, Cardiff, Dudley, Leeds/Castleford and Glasgow.
The CMA said that TOBC could avoid an in-depth phase 2 merger investigation if it offered an acceptable solution to address its concerns. As a result TOBC has offered to sell a ten-pin bowling centre in each of the 6 local areas identified.
Under the proposed undertakings, TOBC must enter into agreements with proposed purchasers to sell these sites and the CMA will need to approve the suitability of the purchaser as a credible competitor before it accepts the undertakings.
The CMA has decided that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the proposed undertakings, or a modified version of them, might be accepted by the CMA instead of a more detailed phase 2 merger investigation.
The CMA now has until 27 October 2015 to consider whether to ultimately accept the undertakings, or a modified version. It can extend this deadline if there are special reasons for doing so.
As part of this consideration process, the CMA will undertake a public consultation on whether the proposed undertakings, including the proposed purchaser or purchasers for the divestment sites, are sufficient to address the competition concerns. If the CMA does not accept the undertakings, it will refer the acquisition for a phase 2 merger investigation.
All information relating to the investigation is available on the case page.