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OFT considers offer from Epyx to address competition concerns

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The OFT has today opened a public consultation on commitments offered by Epyx.

The commitments seek to address the OFT's competition concerns regarding Epyx's conduct in the market for the supply of service, maintenance and repair platforms (SMR platforms) in the UK. Epyx supplies the 1link Service Network SMR platform in the UK.

SMR platforms are online platforms that help fleets (such as leasing companies and rental companies) to procure SMR services for these vehicles from other businesses (such as vehicle dealers, fast-fit outlets and garages).

The commitments have been offered in response to the OFT's investigation under the Competition Act 1998 following a complaint alleging an abuse of a dominant position. If accepted by the OFT, the commitments will bring the investigation to an end.

The OFT is concerned that certain provisions in Epyx's contracts may restrict its SMR platform customers - particularly those that manage fleets - from evaluating, developing, marketing and using alternative systems, and may therefore raise barriers to market entry.

Epyx has offered commitments that would relax or remove these contractual restrictions, giving Epyx's customers the freedom to work with, develop and sponsor alternative systems while also enjoying more frequent opportunities to switch supplier.

Customers will additionally benefit from technical support from Epyx, where this is reasonably necessary to facilitate switching.

The OFT considers that these commitments offer clear opportunities for competitors to enter the market and provide Epyx's current customers with the option to switch to rival suppliers if they choose to. The OFT therefore proposes to accept these commitments, subject to consultation.

Ann Pope, senior director in the OFT's Services, Infrastructure and Public Markets group, said: “The OFT is consulting on whether these commitments will provide an immediate and effective means of encouraging meaningful competition in the SMR platform market in the UK.

“Under the proposed commitments, a range of existing barriers to entry should be significantly reduced and the market opened to choice and innovation.

“The OFT would now like to hear the views of all interested parties before it makes its decision on whether to accept the commitments.'

Comments on the proposed commitments should be submitted to the OFT by 5pm on April 4, 2014 via email and/or by post, addressing their response to: SMR Platforms Team, Office of Fair Trading, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London, EC4Y 8JX or email: smrplatforms@oft.gsi.gov.uk.


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