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OFT refers Mortgage Brain-TrigoldCrystal merger to Competition Commission

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The Office of Fair Trading has referred the acquisition of Mortgage Brain and TrigoldCrystal to the Competition Commission for further investigation.

Mortgage Brain announced at the end of December that it had agreed the terms to acquire TrigoldCrystal and notified the OFT for its clearance.

Mortgage Brain chief executive Mark Lofthouse says the firm will decide over the next week whether or not to approach the Competition Commission to set out its case for the merger. If Mortgage Brain decides not to approach the CC the merger would collapse.

The firms are the two biggest suppliers of mortgage sourcing software products and are considered to be each other’s closest competitors. The merger would result in the firm having an 84 per cent market share in the mortgage sourcing sector.

The OFT believes existing suppliers will be unlikely to compete with the combined firm and is worried the move could lead to less innovation and lower quality of service to customers.

The Competition Commission is expected to report by September 1.

OFT senior director Ali Nikpay says: “This merger would bring together the two strongest competitors in the supply of mortgage sourcing software in the UK. A significant number of customers are concerned about the potential impact the proposed transaction will have on prices, innovation, investment and choice. We believe that this is an appropriate case to refer to the Competition Commission for a fuller investigation.”

Lofthouse (pictured) is “disappointed” with the OFT’s decision.

He says: “Following the announcement of the proposed acquisition of TrigoldCrystal by Mortgage Brain everyone we spoke to recognised the considerable benefits it would bring to the mortgage industry.

“However, whilst disappointed, we respect the Office of Fair Trading’s decision and would like to thank all of our customers and business partners for their continued support and feedback throughout this process.”

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