Times Publishing's proposed Penguin merger gets green light from competition watchdog

Times Publishing has been given a conditional go-ahead to buy two Penguin Random House units.
Times Publishing has been given a conditional go-ahead to buy two Penguin Random House units.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Asia-based media group Times Publishing has been given a conditional go-ahead to buy two Penguin Random House units, after the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) flagged potential concerns during its first round of reviews.

Fraser and Neave's Times Publishing, which owns the Times bookstore chain, has committed to supplying third-party retailers with the full range of Penguin books even while it holds exclusive distribution rights, the CCS said on Monday (Sept 25).

This promise addresses fears about discrimination or restrictions on supply to other retailers after Times Publishing's proposed $8 million merger with Singaporean and Malaysian distribution arms Penguin Random House and Penguin Books Malaysia.

Times Publishing will also apply the recommended retail price and discounts to all retailers in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory manner, with an independent auditor to monitor compliance, the statement said.

The merger deal, first floated in January, will be allowed to go forward as long as Times Publishing follows through with its commitments.

The CCS, a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, is tasked with making sure that mergers do not cause a substantial lessening of competition in Singapore, among other responsibilities.