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Major online dating platforms can merge

Date of issue: 22.10.2015

The Bundeskartellamt has cleared in second phase proceedings the planned acquisition of all the shares in EliteMedianet GmbH, Hamburg, by an investment fund of Oakley Capital Limited, London. The merger affects the market for online dating platforms, on which EliteMedianet is active with the dating platforms www.elitepartner.de and www.academicpartner.de. Parship GmbH with the platform www.parship.de already belongs to the portfolio of Oakley Capital Limited.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: "The dating agency portals concerned are some of the largest online dating platforms in Germany. Nonetheless, after intensive examination, we have cleared the planned merger. In assessing the effects of the project on competition, we have taken particular account of the results of user surveys. The relevant market is not limited to the large dating agency portals but also comprises a number of other dating platforms such as e.g. www.friendscout24.de and many specialised providers which target specific user groups. Considerable competitive pressure is also exerted by successful mobile applications, i.e. dating apps."

The merger is not expected to significantly impede competition. According to the Bundeskartellamt's findings users will still have sufficient possibilities after the merger to switch to alternative providers on the market for online dating platforms. As users often use several dating platforms at the same time and new customer business is of great significance for dating platforms, market entry is comparably easy. This is illustrated by the recent success of mobile dating platforms such as Tinder and Lovoo.

At the beginning of 2015 the Bundeskartellamt launched an inhouse project group, the "Internet Platforms Think Tank" to develop competition law concepts to deal with the digital economy and platform markets. The authority was able to make significant use of the think tank's findings in its assessment of the online dating market.

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