A final ruling on Thomas Cook's proposed merger with the Co-operative Group will be delayed until October, despite being given a provisional go-ahead by the Competition Commission last week.
The Commission has announced that the deadline for the investigation has been put back to October 11, from August 16.
However, the Commission gave provisional clearance for the deal, which will create a chain of more than 1,200 high street agents, on July 21 and is not expected to change that ruling.-~ The deadline for final submissions on the merger remains August 11.
"We have to give this proper consideration," said a Competition Commission spokesman.-~ "Five days [between the deadline for final submissions and a decision] wasn't very long to do anything but publish the final report. We have to run a fair process.
"The provisional findings were published quite late compared with the normal schedule. Taking time to consider responses is going to take us past the original deadline."
The Commission could issue the ruling ahead of the new deadline, as the eight-week extension is only an option.
A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said she did not expect it to delay the completion of the deal, which is expected before the end of its current financial year, which ends in September.
by Jeremy Skidmore
Thursday, July 28, 2011