UK’s Competition Enforcer Has Shot Itself In The Foot

By Cat Rutter Pooley, Financial Times

To the victor the spoils, the saying goes. Unfortunately, the culmination of a long-running competition wrangle over sportswear recalls another piece of fighting-related talk: there are no winners in war.

For roughly three years, one of the UK’s largest retailers has been pitted against the country’s competition watchdog over its £90mn acquisition of a smaller rival. On Monday, the terms of defeat were set out: JD Sports will offload the offending business to private equity ownership for £37.5mn. In the scheme of things, the original deal was pretty inconsequential.

It should probably never have been done. It would have been far better had the Competition and Markets Authority never decided it merited in-depth scrutiny. As it is, the sorry sportswear saga has tarnished just about everyone involved.

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