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ACQUISITION BY FIRSTBUS PLC OF S B HOLDINGS LTD

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The trade and industry secretary has asked the Monopolies and Mergers Commission to inquire into the acquisition of...
The trade and industry secretary has asked the Monopolies and Mergers Commission to inquire into the acquisition of S B Holdings Ltd by FirstBus plc.

The commission will be studying the possible effects on competition in the market for bus services in an area comprising the unitary authorities of Argyll and Bute, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, Renfewshire, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfewshire.

The commission would like to hear from anyone who wishes to submit evidence in writing to the inquiry by 14 October 1996, to be sent to:

The Reference Secretary (FirstBus/SBH), Monopolies and Mergers Commission, New Court, 48 Carey Street, London WC2A 2JT.

The group conducting the inquiry will be chaired by Peter Dean, one of the commission's deputy chairmen. The remaining members will be announced shortly.

John Taylor, corporate and consumer affairs minister, has decided, in accordance with the advice of the director general of Fair Trading, to refer the acquisition by FirstBus plc of SB Holdings Limited to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for investigation and report under the provisions of the Fair Trading Act 1973. The MMC are required to make their report by 23 December 1996.

Mr Taylor considers that the acquisition raises competition concerns in the operation of the bus market in central Scotland which merit investigation by the MMC. The decision to make a reference does not in any way prejudge the question of whether or not the merger would be against the public interest. It is for the MMC to report on this after investigation.

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