The Competition & Markets Authority final report on the acquisition of conveyancing services company tmgroup by Dye & Durham Limited has thwarted plans for the companies to unite.
Dye & Durham, an international provider of cloud-based software and technology solutions, announced the £91.5 million purchase of Swindon-based TM Group in July 2021.
Both businesses offer property search services to clients in the UK under a variety of different brands.
The firms chose not to notify the CMA about the deal but, as part of its ongoing monitoring of mergers and acquisitions, the CMA identified potential concerns and began an initial investigation in October 2021. It was referred for an in-depth investigation, overseen by an independent inquiry group, in December 2021.
The inquiry group considered a wide range of evidence, including from the merging businesses’ own strategic documents and a survey of customers, as well as extensive information provided by customers, competitors and other industry players.
The firms were close rivals before the merger and the evidence shows that the combined business would be the largest provider in the market.
The CMA also found that the merger would only leave 2 other large national suppliers in the market and that competition from smaller suppliers would not offset the competition lost by the merger.
The CMA therefore concluded that the merger would reduce competition and could lead to less innovation, higher prices and lower quality services in the market. This could mean a worse deal for people and businesses buying or selling residential and commercial properties in England and Wales.
Richard Feasey, chair of the independent CMA group conducting the inquiry, said:
“The merger of 2 of the biggest players in this market would be bad news for anyone buying or selling property in England and Wales.
“Competition drives innovation and keeps prices down. Without it, we can pay more for worse products and services.
“To address our concerns, Dye & Durham must sell TM Group in its entirety to a suitable buyer.”
Yesterday TM Group issued the following statement:
TM Group (UK) Limited (tmgroup) notes that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today published its Final Report into the assessment of the acquisition of tmgroup by Dye & Durham Limited, a Canadian listed software and technology company.
The CMA have concluded that they believe that the merger of tmgroup and Dye & Durham would give rise to a substantial lessening of competition in the market, and they have further concluded that the only remedy to this is for Dye & Durham to divest themselves of all their shareholdings in tmgroup.
Whilst not an outcome we agree with or would have wished for, tm group respects the decision made and will continue to fully cooperate with the CMA as we work with both them and Dye & Durham to identify a long-term investor that matches our own ambitions to continue to deliver the very best solutions in the market.
Throughout the period of review, tmgroup has continued to be managed as a separate business and has continued to invest in it and deliver the types of technology innovation and service that are synonymous with the tmgroup brand, and we want to reassure all of our customers and employees that this will not change as we go through the next phase of this process.