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The OFT closed on 31 March 2014 and this website is no longer being updated. The OFT's work and responsibilities have passed to a number of different bodies. Read more.


An introduction to the OFT's mergers work.

The Office of Fair Trading obtains and reviews information relating to merger situations and, where necessary, refers any relevant mergers to the Competition Commission (CC) for further investigation.

The OFT refers completed and anticipated mergers to the Competition Commission for further investigation if it believes that it is or may be the case that:

  • a relevant merger situation has been or will be created, and
  • the creation of that situation has resulted, or may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets for goods or services in the UK.

The OFT may, however, decide not to make a reference if it believes that:

  • the market concerned is not, or the markets concerned are not, of sufficient importance to justify the making of a reference to the CC
  • any relevant customer benefits in relation to the creation of the relevant merger situation outweigh the substantial lessening of competition concerned and any adverse effects of the substantial lessening of competition concerned, or
  • in the case of an anticipated merger, the arrangements concerned are not sufficiently far advanced, or are not sufficiently likely to proceed, to justify the making of a reference to the CC.

While most mergers will raise no issues relating to a substantial lessening of competition, the merger control process is designed to allow the OFT to identify those where such issues may arise, so that they may be examined in greater detail through a reference to the CC.

The OFT also has the function of advising the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry  on mergers which might fall within the scope of the public interest or the special public interest provisions of the Enterprise Act.

See full details of our mergers work.

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