Latium Holdings and Epwin Group merger referred to OFT

Published:  20 June, 2012

WILMSLOW: The Office for Fair Trading has referred the merger of window manufacturer Latium Holdings and building products supplier the Epwin Group to the Competition Commission for investigation amid concerns it could lead to price hikes.

The businesses merged in January in a deal that created a £275m-turnover enterprise with 2,500 staff. The OFT said in February it would look at the deal to see if it would result in a substantial lessening of competition in the roofing products sector.

Now the OFT has decided to refer the deal for further investigation by the Commission. OFT senior director Ali Nikpay said: “We are concerned that the merger will reduce the competitive options for roofers, builders and independent stockists and could lead to price increases.

“We therefore believe that our duty to refer the merger to the Competition Commission has been triggered in this case.”

The Commission is expected to report by December. Latium, which was owned by businessman and Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy, merged with Cheltenham-based Epwin to become Epwin Holdings. The deal was hailed as an opportunity to achieve efficiencies in new product development and for giving Latium's businesses access to PVC recycling technology owned by Epwin.

Kennedy jointly controls Epwin Holdings with Jim Rawson. Rawson founded The Epwin Group in 1976 and is chairman of Epwin Holdings. The Epwin Group makes and supplies building products such as windows, doors and conservatories. Latium's brands include Spectus, CET and Kestrel-BCE.

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