Objections against Bonnier Books’ acquisition of Strawberry Publishing

The Norwegian Competition Authority is considering intervening against the merger between Bonnier Books Holding AB and Strawberry Publishing Norge AS . The Authority’s preliminary view is that the merger may weaken competition between publishers in the market for the sale of printed books and in the market for the sale of books to providers of streaming services.

According to the proposed transaction, Bonnier Books will acquire 70% of the Norwegian publishing group Strawberry Publishing. Prior to the transaction, Bonnier Books owns 50 percent of the shares in the Norwegian publishing company Cappelen Damm.

The market for the sale of books is a concentrated market with Cappelen Damm as the major player. In the course of the last years, Strawberry Publishing has established itself as one of Norway’s largest publishers, with several of the most sold books in Norway. The parties have today received a statement of objections, informing them that the Authority is considering intervening against the acquisition.

As a result of the acquisition, Cappelen Damms’ already strong position will further be strengthened. Strawberry Publishing is a publisher with significant competitive force, and has challenged the established publishers’ market position. It is the Authority’s preliminary view that the acquisition will limit competition in the market and harm the consumers, says Director Gjermund Nese.

– We are concerned that the acquisition will reduce competition in the market for the sale of printed books and the market for sale of books to providers of streaming services, and that reduced competition will lead to higher prices for customers, says Project Manager Elisabeth Steckmest.

The notifying parties have proposed remedies with a view to remove the competition concerns identified by the Competition Authority.

– We have considered these remedies, but have found that they are insufficient to mitigate the harm to competition that the merger may cause, says Gjermund Nese.

The Authority underlines that today’s statement of objections is preliminary and that a final decision has not yet been adopted.

According to the Competition Act, the companies now have 15 working days to submit their comments to the Authority’s statement of objections. Thereafter, the Authority has 15 working days to make its final decision.

The deadline for a final decision is 17 June 2021.

 

Gjermund Nese, Director at the Norwegian Competition Authority.
Project Manager Elisabeth Steckmest.

Contact information

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