UK watchdog to review Lagan-Quinn deal

OFT Considering whether deal falls under its jurisdiction

UK regulators are reviewing Lagan Cement's bid to buy the rooftile business owned by the Quinn Group.

Lagan Cement, part of the Belfast and Dublin-based Lagan Group, recently agreed to buy Quinn Building Products Ltd, part of the business formerly owned by Sean Quinn, which supplies rooftiles to the construction industry.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT), responsible for implementing competition law in the UK, is seeking submissions from interested parties into Lagan’s agreement to buy the Quinn unit.

Both have operations in the North, while Lagan has a substantial business in Britain. The deal between the two companies is due to go ahead in about three weeks.

The OFT said it was considering whether the deal falls under the terms of the UK Enterprise Act 2002, which would bring it in under its jurisdiction, opening up the possibility that it could be subject to a full investigation.

It is also exploring whether, as a result of the transaction, a “situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the UK”. It is seeking submissions from interested parties by April 1st.

Under the Enterprise Act, the OFT can review mergers where one business has a turnover of more than £70 million or if the deal is likely to result in the enlarged operation taking a 25 per cent share of the relevant market in the UK, or substantial part of it.

If the office believes that the deal will result in a substantial lessening of competition, it can refer the transaction to the Competition Commission, which has the power to carry out a full investigation.

If the commission finds that the merger will damage competition, it can halt the deal or impose conditions on the parties involved before allowing it to go through.

The UK government will next month merge part of the OFT and the Competition Commission in to a new single bod Competition and Markets Authority.