Bowled over: Competition regulator topples merger or Original Bowling Company and Bowlplex

 
Emma Haslett
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Will the pair strike it lucky - or will they be forced to split? (Source: Getty)

Is the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) about to force a split? The regulator has toppled plans for a merger between The Original Bowling Company and Bowlplex over concerns it would lead to less competition in the sector. Well. We're bowled over...

The CMA said it had looked at six local areas where the pair run ten-pin bowling alleys - Bristol, Bracknell, Cardiff, Dudley, Leeds/Casteford and Glasgow - and concluded that there would be "insufficient competition" from other providers if they merged. However, it added that in other parts of the UK, there weren't any concerns.

The Original Bowling Company announced the deal back in April, after private equity giant Electra Partners invested £51m in it last September.

"Our plan is to drive further growth through investing in the development of the existing sites and replication of Hollywood Bowl's successful customer offering," said Bill Pristley, partner at Electra Partners, at the time.

Sheldon Mills, the CMA's senior director of mergers, said the CMA was concerned that following the merger there wouldn't be enough competition to prevent higher prices or lower service levels.

"We therefore propose to refer the merger for an in-depth investigation unless TOBC offers a clear-cut remedy to address our competition concerns," he sai.

The pair now have five working days to pin down a resolution to the problem...

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