Singapore's competition commission probes PRH deal

Singapore's competition commission probes PRH deal

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) is conducting a public consultation in response to Times Publishing's proposed acquisition of Penguin Singapore and Penguin Malaysia.

PRH signed a conditional agreement in early January to sell its Singapore and Malaysia distribution arms for £4.5m to Times Publishing, an Asia-Pacific media group owned by parent company Fraser and Neave. It would secure Penguin Singapore and Penguin Malaysia as exclusive distributors of English books published by Penguin Books, The Random House Group, Dorling Kindersley and Penguin Random House and their subsidiaries in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.

According to The Straits Times, Times Publishing argued "publishers and retailers/dealers have strong bargaining power relative to distributors, as publishers hold publishing rights to the trade books, and for retailers and dealers, the sale of trade books typically constitutes only a part of the products sold. Accordingly, publishers and retailers/dealers are able to... impose downward pressure on pricing and terms."

It reported Times Publishing also cited a "credible threat" posed by online book sales platforms "that are not bound by territorial limits". These platforms can, apart from supplying books directly to end-customers, also supply to retailers and dealers located in Singapore and Malaysia as an alternative to physical distributors, the company said.

The public consultation opened on Friday (20th January) and will close on 6th February 2017.