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Trinity deal cleared on public interest grounds, says Culture Secretary

Matt Hancock has accepted findings that the deal does not raise major competition or media plurality concerns.

Trinity Mirror’s £126.7 million deal to buy a string of titles from Richard Desmond’s media empire will not be referred for an in-depth further investigation, Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

Mr Hancock said he had accepted the competition watchdog’s findings that the acquisition by Trinity – which recently rebranded to Reach – of titles including the Daily Express and Daily Star does not lead to a substantial reduction of competition in any market.

He also backed regulator Ofcom’s conclusions that it does not raise public interest concerns over plurality of views in the media.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock (Ian West/PA)

The decision not to refer the deal for a so-called Phase 2 investigation on public interest grounds means the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will now have the final say.

A decision from the CMA is expected imminently.

In a statement on the deal, Mr Hancock said: “I accept the CMA’s findings that whilst it is, or may be, the case that a relevant merger situation has been created, the merger does not give rise to a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in any market.

“I have also accepted Ofcom’s conclusions that the merger does not raise concerns in relation to plurality of views, nor does it raise concerns in relation to free expression of opinion in newspapers.”

He added: “In light of this, and having considered representations submitted by interested parties in response to the PIIN (public interest intervention notice), I have written to the parties today confirming my decision not to refer the merger for a Phase 2 investigation.”

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