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Getty Images Pulls Out Of Rex Features Acquisition

4pm – the deal is off! – details as we get them…..
4.05pm – 6pm – the phone is ringing off the hook – voice mails are queued up, emails are flying, the industry is alive!
6.15pm – This in from Alison Crombie at Getty Images who we emailed when the deal broke:
We are disappointed that our proposed acquisition of Rex Features has been referred to the Competition Commission and we respectfully disagree with the preliminary concerns expressed by the Office of Fair Trading. Given the distraction that this next phase could potentially bring to both Getty Images and Rex Features and the parties’ desire to focus their business resources on the production and delivery of high quality services to their customers, we have decided not to pursue this acquisition any further. We still believe Rex Features to be a strong and valuable business and we wish the Rex Features team the very best in the future.
6.25pm – This in from Mike Selby at Rex Features: exclusively to PAN
Following the decision by the OFT to refer the acquisition to the MMC, Rex Features and Getty Images mutually agreed to walk away from the deal.
For our part we felt that the many-months-long investigations by the MMC which would have been involved if the parties were to pursue the matter would have been extremely stressful for our staff and unsettling for our suppliers, customers and agents, and we felt that this could not be justified with no certainty of a positive outcome.
The reasons given by the OFT for its decision to refer the case are confirmation of Rex’s leading position in the market.
Rex was never actively seeking a buyer, and we are not seeking one now. The offer by Getty was an interesting prospect, but now that it is off we will continue to do what we have been doing all along — give photographers and photo users in the UK and around the world a service which is second to none.
Our near-legendary staff have been working as normal during the negotiation period, and we have been doing very nicely thank you. Lots of good exclusive stuff in the papers lately — Kylie in “Greek Goddess” outfit in all the papers this week; Jennifer Saunders cancer story in the Mail today….. Volume of sales still going up. We had many many calls from clients today after the decision, welcoming the news and the fact that Rex is going to continue to be there as their independent picture source of choice.
We hope they’ll put their money where their mouth is!
Business as usual here.

For the record, here is the Getty Images press release of April 2010 announcing the purchase:
Getty Images to Acquire Rex Features
Acquisition will Provide a Broader Selection of Compelling Entertainment Content to Meet Growing Demand for Celebrity Imagery

SEATTLE & LONDON – April 26 2010 – Getty Images, the world’s leading creator and distributor of visual content and other media, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Rex Features, which includes Los Angeles-based Berliner Photography. The acquisition will benefit existing and potential customers by making even more celebrity content easily accessible.
“Celebrity and entertainment content is a growing and vital part of the editorial imagery industry and this acquisition positions us to meet and exceed the demand for nearly instantaneous material,” said Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images. “Growing our entertainment imagery business continues to be a key strategic focus. The real winners will be our customers, who can now expect to see greater choice and more easily accessible imagery.”
Getty Images intends to maintain Rex Features’ brand and with the combined resources of Getty Images and Rex Features, Getty Images will continue to generate new imagery for their respective celebrity and entertainment collections. Additionally, Getty Images’ global distribution channels will increase international customers’ access to Rex Features’ products and services.
The acquisition of Rex Features was driven by the continually evolving celebrity imagery business and gives Getty Images more coverage capabilities for events and portraiture and will expand the entertainment and celebrity imagery segment.
‘Over more than five decades, Rex Features has built a strong heritage and reputation that Getty Images will build upon to the benefit of customers worldwide,’ added Klein. ‘Getty Images has always been dedicated to making strategic investments that will provide long-term value to our customers.’