ITV was told today that it might not be allowed to sell Friends Reunited, even for a £145 million loss.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) ruled that ITV’s attempt to sell Friends for £25 million to the owner of two genealogy sites could breach competition law.

ITV must now convince the Competition Commission to allow it to sell off Friends, which the broadcaster bought for £170 million and once hoped would make a viable British competitor to Facebook before its profits collapsed. Friends’ most successful property is its Genes Reunited genealogy site, but because Brightsolid, the prospective buyer, owns FindMyPast.com and 1911 Census.com the OFT is worried about the reduction in the number of players in that sector.

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