Punters Paradise Pty Ltd (Punters.com) has completed the purchase of Racing Internet Services Pty Ltd (Racenet) in a deal valued at $17 million.
The takeover sees two of Australia’s most prominent horse racing news and affiliate websites merge under the News Corp banner.
There were concerns that such a transaction would give Rupert Murdoch’s multi-national corporation too much power within the racing media.
The matter was considered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which voiced no opposition to the merger.
“The ACCC found that there are numerous alternative sources of online racing news and information for consumers other than Punters and Racenet,” ACCC commissioner Roger Featherston said in a statement published last week.
The official review pointed out that because readers do not have to pay for content on either Punters.com or Racenet, the buyout would have no discernible effect on their access to information.
It also said rival news services and betting affiliates were unlikely to suffer as a result.
This conclusion was reached even though the ACCC took into account Punters and Racenet’s newfound financial strength and their ability to out-price competitors on the advertising and marketing front.
The latest New Corp purchase puts a huge dent in the independent media coverage of horse racing in Australia, with the obvious synergies in the two businesses meaning many aspects of its editorial and development teams can be merged, resulting in financial savings.
The decision to allow the merger will again have readers questioning the editorial independence of the News Corp-owned racing coverage with many advertising partnerships tying in closely with regulatory bodies, likes Punters controversial deal with Racing Queensland.
The commission also considered the fact New Corp owns a stake in the AAP wire – an essential service for news providers in the Australian racing industry.
It continues a huge week in the Australian betting landscape with GVC Holdings, the parent company of Ladbrokes.com.au, making a high-priced purchase of Aussie bookie Neds.com.au.