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ITV's sale of Friends stalls

ITV&rsquo;s attempt to offload its social network Friends?Reunited for &pound;25m hit a stumbling block last night, after the competition watchdog warned the deal could breach competition law. <br /><br />The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has asked the Competition Commission to investigate the proposed sale&rsquo;s impact on the family tree research sector. <br /><br />Brightsolid, a subsidiary of DC Thompson, said it would buy the site last August and use it as the to build an online genealogy powerhouse.<br /><br />But the OFT said yesterday the deal could leave too few players in the sector, meaning &ldquo;a reduction in choice and service for consumers&rdquo;.<br /><br />Brightsolid wanted to combine its findmypast.com and 1911Census.com websites with Friends Reunited&rsquo;s Genes Reunited.<br /><br />&ldquo;People&rsquo;s growing interest in researching their family tree has made this an increasingly important market,&rdquo; Amelia Fletcher of the OFT said. &ldquo;We are concerned this merger could lead to a reduction in choice or service for consumers&rdquo;. <br /><br />ITV and Brightsolid said they were &ldquo;disappointed&rdquo; by the move, and Brightsolid&rsquo;s boss Chris van der Kuyl said it was good for competition.<br /><br />The Commission has a deadline of 16 April 2010 to reach a conclusion.