B&Q, Sainsbury’s-Asda merger, Disney 21st Century Fox takeover, Women’s football: your commercial news round-up
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This week has been the tale of two mergers, with supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Asda still campaigning to convince the Competitions and Markets Authority that their planned merger will benefit customers. Meanwhile Disney has closed the deal on 21st Century Fox for an eyewatering $71 billion, which will see franchises like Deadpool and X-Men coming over to the dark side to join Star Wars and Marvel. If you’re interested in M&A, you might like to take a look at our practice area profile with White & Case lawyer Michael Mountain. But first, here are this week’s top business news stories:
- B&Q boss Veronique Laury is to step down as profits at the firm continue to fall. The group that owns the DIY chain, Kingfisher, also owns Screwfix which is facing similar problems across Europe. The group’s shares have fallen 27% over the last year. Laury was overseeing a turnaround plan that aimed to unite product ranges, boost e-commerce and seek efficiency savings. She will remain at the firm until a successor is found.
- Supermarket giants Sainsbury’s and Asda are still fighting to convince the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) to allow them to merge, with the chains this week saying that their planned merger will save them £1.6 billion and allow them to pass on £1 billion of savings to customers. If the merger goes ahead, the new chain will be the largest in the UK, overtaking Tesco. The CMA has been threatening to block the merger for months, claiming that it will result in higher prices and less choice.
- Vodafone will receive a warning from EU competition regulators over its £16.7 billion takeover of Liberty Global assets. The move will see Vodafone take control of Liberty’s business in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, rivalling the hold of Deutsche Telekom. The EU competition commission is investigating the deal due to concerns about the impact on competition in the German and Czech markets.
- Barclays has been unveiled as the first sponsor of the newly professional Women’s Super League (WSL) in a ground-breaking multimillion-pound deal. The sponsorship is a record for women’s sport in the UK, with prize money available for the first time in the league. FA director of women’s football Kelly Simmons commented that the deal heralds a new era for the sport, and that it makes the WSL less dependent on the men’s game.
- Disney’s deal for Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, worth $71 billion, closed this week meaning that the Walt Disney Company will now absorb the Fox film and TV studios and the FX networks, among other channels. Disney will be launching its own streaming service later this year, with the new acquisition providing weight to take on rivals Netflix and Amazon.