However, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is conducting a full review of the proposed merger between the two credit comparison services as it has concerns over other areas of overlap.
In publishing details of its review today, the CMA noted that the firms have a low share of the supply of credit comparisons for mortgages, that they face extensive constraints from larger competing credit comparison platforms (CCPs) and that they also face constraints from outside the market.
The initial decision therefore concluded “there was no realistic prospect that the merger would result in a substantial lessening of competition (SLC) in the supply of CCPs for mortgages,” the CMA said.
“Subject to any further evidence submitted… we are not currently minded to investigate this theory of harm further. We do, however, welcome reasoned submissions any parties may wish to make in this regard,” it added.
In contrast, the regulator highlighted four particular areas where it felt there were significant competition concerns and questions to answer about the merger.
- the supply of CCPs for loans in the UK;
- the supply of CCPs for credit cards in the UK;
- the supply of credit checking tools (paid-for and free) in the UK; and
- the supply of pre-qualification services to CCPs in the UK.
The CMA has a range of remedy tools and could potentially block the merger if it found it was to result in substantial lessening of competition.
The consultation period on the proposed review is open until 11 September.