Competition Authority rules on Herald AM/Metro

The Competition Authority has finally approved the deal between IN&M, Irish Times and the publishers of the Daily Mail. They have cleared the way for IN&M to acquire and interest in Fortunegreen, the current publisher of the Metro. Under the deal the Herald AM and Metro will cease publishing and it will be replaced by the fantastically imaginatively titled “Herald Metro”. The title seems to scream the all parties wanted to hold on to a shred of ‘branding’. Anyway.. There are a few caveats to the ruling:

  • the shareholders will direct Fortunegreen to operate Metro Herald as an independent competitor of the shareholders’ newspapers.
  • The management of Fortunegreen will make decisions in respect of certain key competitive parameters without requiring the approval of the shareholders or their representatives on the Board.
  • the directors nominated to the Board of Fortunegreen will not have day-to-day responsibility for the advertising function of any daily newspaper sold in the Dublin Area  and certain information will not be exchanged between the shareholders and between the shareholders and Fortunegreen in respect of their own business activities
  • Fortunegreen will have the incentive and the ability to be an effective independent competitor in the market for display newspaper advertising in the GDA;
  • the proposed transaction will not create a forum that could enhance the ability for coordination between the shareholders and between the shareholders and Fortunegreen.

Leaving all those aside there are still some extremely practical decisions to be made. There is huge duplication of work between the two titles. Given that the shareholders have stated in the past that they are going for a print run of about 80,000 it means that half of the combined workforce currently distributing the paper every morning will be laid off, along with a raft of other positions in the two current papers.