Here are this week’s headlines, brought to you by our Student Commercial Awareness Team:
- An End to the Sky Bidding War within Sight
Reported by Anna Flaherty
The bidding war between Fox and Comcast, over Sky, is well-known and been in the news for some time. It has now been decided that the takeover of the broadcaster will be settled at an auction. The bidding will start a 5pm London time on Friday and finish the next evening. Each aforementioned party agreed to the process, as a resolution to the bidding war which has gone on for much time.
The history of the bidding is as follows – In December 2016, Fox offered £18.5 billion (which was held up by regulators and seemed settled), but by February 2018 Comcast had offered £22 billion. In response, Fox offered £24.5 billion this July, to which Comcast raised its bid to £26 billion within the same month. Head of European media research at Liberum Capital, Ian Whittaker, said that it is “a very unusual course of action” for takeovers to go to an auction in this way, but the war which has gone for years now seems to be drawing towards a conclusion. In terms of future consequences, Alice Enders, a media analyst, has said that whoever wins the bidding war will likely raise prices for Sky subscribers.
For more information, see here.
- Sainsbury’s-Asda Merger Referred for Further Investigation
Reported by Rui Ci Lee
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is referring the proposed merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda for a more in-depth review after completing its Phase 1 investigation. The deal between the UK’s second and third biggest supermarkets raises concerns of competition issues if the merger goes through.
Briefly, the UK merger control is a two-stage process. Phase 1 of the investigation considers whether the merger raises prima facie competition concerns and is handled by the CMA Board. If it is found from Phase 1 of the investigation that a merger situation will or may result in a substantial lessening of competition in a UK market, the merger will be referred to a more in-depth Phase 2 investigation. Phase 2 is conducted by a panel of people with more professional experience in that matter.
If the deal between Sainsbury’s and Walmart-owned Asda goes through, the merged group will overtake Tesco as the market leader and have 2,800 stores across the UK. The combined revenues of both groups will be GBP51bn.
The CMA had previously warned that the proposed merger will be blocked if it would leave shoppers worse off. To quote Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, ‘We will carry out a thorough investigation to find out if this merger could lead to higher prices or a worse quality of service for shoppers and will not allow it to go ahead unless any concerns we find are fully dealt with.’
For more information, see Sky News.
- The Bar challenges inception of so called ‘super-exam’
Reported by Anna-Mei Harvey
There have been talks about extinguishing the LPC and BPTC courses and combining the two with potential lawyers instead facing a new, hybrid ‘super exam’ for the last decade and the SRA gave the green light in April last year.
In August, Kaplan won an eight year contract to develop and run the new exam, the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE,) on behalf of the SRA. As is stands, the Legal Services Board is set to finalise the rules surrounding qualification this coming autumn and the super exam is due to come in to effect as early as summer of 2020.
The introduction of the new exam will not affect those who have already begun or are due to begin their QLDs, GDL or LPC before September 2020. Instead these students will have the option to qualify via the existing route or you can choose to take the new route until approximately 2030.
This week however the Bar Council has once again raised its concerns about the reforms saying that going ahead with the reform would ‘unacceptably dilute’ the bar’s standards. Fears emerged over ‘easier entry’ into the profession claiming that this option would be far more attractive to future lawyers as the ‘less arduous process of qualification,’ when compared with the current route to qualification as a barrister.
The bar’s comments however remain controversial. The legal profession is still considered limited in terms of its social mobility and equal opportunities and some will argue that the comments made this week serve only to reinforce the view that the Bar is and will continue to be an impenetrable ‘white middle class man’s’ game.