The sale of the Friends Reunited website to the newspaper group, DC Thomson, based in Dundee, has been approved by the Competition Commission.
This was not one of ITV's better investments. ITV paid £120 million for Friends Reunited in December 2005 and is now selling it for £25 million. The online site had 15 million users in December 2005 but that number apparently has dropped significantly in the past four years.
There were concerns over the sale as DC Thomson owns Brightsolid, a genealogy business. The website attached to Brightsolid, Find My Past, can now be combined with Friends Reunited offshoot, Genes Reunited. There had been concerns that the deal would allow DC Thomson to monopolise the online genealogy market, but the Competition Commission’s ruling recognises that the deal does not pose a threat to customers of these services. In fact, it may even promote competition.
The chair of the inquiry group, Laura Carstensen, stated that even following the merger, another site, ancestry.co.uk, would still be the major player in this market and that fact, along with the likelihood that new sites might also emerge, assured the Competition Commission that there was no danger in this deal going through.
“In fact, the merger could potentially benefit amateur family historians as the merged company will be better equipped to compete directly with Ancestry.co.uk, leading to more innovation and improvements in the market.”