Bonnier Books withdraws notification of merger

Bonnier Books has informed the Norwegian Competition Authority that it withdraws the notification of the merger between Bonnier Books Holding AB and Strawberry Publishing Norge AS.

The transaction was notified to the Norwegian Competition Authority on 13 January 2021. On 3 May 2021, the Authority sent a statement of objections to the parties informing them that the Authority was considering intervening against the merger.

According to the proposed transaction, Bonnier Books would have acquired 70 percent of the Norwegian publishing group Strawberry Publishing. Bonnier Books already has a 50 percent stake in Cappelen Damm.

The market for the sale of books is concentrated with Cappelen Damm as the largest player. In just a few years, Strawberry Publishing has built up a position as one of Norway’s largest publishers, with several of the best-selling books in Norway.

– The Competition Authority issued a statement of objections in this case because the acquisition would have strengthened Cappelen Damm’s already strong market position. The Authority was concerned that the acquisition would have reduced competition in the market for the sale of printed books and in the market for the sale of books to providers of streaming services, and that reduced competition would have led to increased prices for customers, says Director Gjermund Nese.

Following the statement of objections, Bonnier Books and Strawberry Publishing have chosen to change the distribution of ownership so that Bonnier instead becomes a minority shareholder in Strawberry. The acquisition of a minority shareholding is not subject to mandatory notification, but the Authority has the possibility to order the companies to notify the transaction.

– The Competition Authority takes note of the fact that Bonnier Books has chosen to withdraw the original notification of its acquisition of Strawberry Publishing. We will now consider whether to notify the companies that the Authority is considering ordering notification of the minority acquisition, says Project Manager Elisabeth Steckmest.

If the Competition Authority decides to order notification of Bonnier Books’ minority acquisition in Strawberry Publishing, the Authority will carry out a new review of this acquisition and the regular time limits will apply.

Gjermund Nese.
Elisabeth Steckmest.

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