The Competition Authority in Ireland has intervened and blocked a move by Eason & Son, the largest book retailer and wholesaler in the country, from taking over the remaining book wholesaler, Argosy Libraries. The Competition Authority cited the terms of the Competition Act 2002 to prevent Eason from purchasing some of the assets of Argosy Libraries. Both companies have been informed of the decision and have agreed to give the Competition Authority 30 days advance notice of any future deal for a period of one year.
The Competition Authority says it reached its decision following an investigation undertaken after the signing of the deal in August of this year. In its statement, released yesterday and conveyed to both parties, the Competition Authority said it had concerns that the deal would reduce the number of wholesalers in the country for new books from 'two to one' and would result in an "absence of credible actual and potential competitors and the wide gap between Eason and the only significant alternative suppliers in the State (that is, UK wholesalers and publishers), the authority was concerned that the proposed transaction would have resulted in increased prices and a reduction in the range of new books to consumers."
This is the first time the Competition Authority in Ireland has acted under the Competition Act 2002 in a deal where both parties have agreed not to proceed with a transaction without notification.