Firms gain as regional press M&As continue

A RASH of mergers and acquisitions in the regional press has signalled a boom in work for regulatory and competition lawyers.

Brussels-based Herbert Smith partner Craig Pouncey is advising Newsquest in its takeover talks with Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers (PSN). The proposed takeover has been referred to the Monopoly & Mergers Commission (MMC), which is expected to issue a public statement on the issue around mid-May.

“Because of the very specific competition rules applying to newspaper mergers and increasing consolidation in the sector, the number of referrals to the MMC is likely to increase considerably in the near future,” says Pouncey.

It is a criminal offence to complete transactions over a certain level without the consent of the Secretary of State. “The automatic need for consent imposes considerable timing disadvantages on newspaper acquirers,” says Pouncey.