Getty Kills Rex Deal, Signs European Tour, Broadens Thinkstock

Posted on 7/12/2010 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (1)

After the U.K. Office of Fair Trading referred the planned merger of Rex Features and Getty Images to the Competition Commission for further investigation, the Seattle announced it would not pursue the acquisition further. Separately, Getty has announced a new five-year agreement to handle the photography of The European Tour and The Ryder Cup, as well as a new product launching under the Thinkstock brand.

The planned Rex acquisition, announced in April, came to a halt last week when the U.K. Government announced its intent to investigate the merger as resulting in a substantial lessening of competition within the industry. Officials consider Getty and Rex to be two of the largest suppliers of archival and entertainment editorial images and fear that Rex’s loss of independence would lead to Getty increasing prices.

According to the OFT, a significant number of third parties—publishers—have voiced their concern over this possibility. Senior director of mergers Amelia Fletcher said the deal was referred to the Competition Commission for a fuller investigation due to “patchy and inconsistent” information initially available to the OFT.

Getty and Rex, however, were unwilling to wait until the projected late-December decision. Multiple media outlets have published statements by both companies’ executives, who have said that prolonged scrutiny would disrupt business. Rex’s editorial director Mike Selby said the company was not actively seeking a buyer prior to receiving an offer from Getty and has no specific plans to do so now.

The failed deal offers a small but interesting insight into the U.K. image market. According to the U.K. Enterprise Act of 2002, an undesirable merger is “when two or more enterprises have ceased to be distinct enterprises; and the value of the turnover in the United Kingdom of the enterprise being taken over exceeds £70 million; or as a result of the transaction, in relation to the supply of goods or services of any description, a 25% share of supply in the U.K. (or a substantial part thereof) is created or enhanced.” (Emphasis added.)

In a different European deal pertaining to editorial imagery, Getty has once again extended its relationship with The European Tour by signing a five-year agreement to be its official photographer. Getty photographers will cover all tour events and The Ryder Cup, as well as license the resulting imagery—including that shot on separate assignment. Getty has had ties to the golf body since the early 1990s. This latest deal has been “expanded and enhanced,” according to The European Tour spokesperson.

In the U.S., the Seattle company continues developing its newest subscription product with the launch of Thinkstock image packs. Other than capping out at one year, the image packs are not tied to the calendar but are based on the quantity of image purchases, similar to the product first brought to market by Shutterstock in the micro space. Thinkstock’s packs range from 5 to 250 image downloads for a respective $59 to $1,499, which covers all file sizes.

Copyright © Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


  • Jonathan Ross Posted Jul 12, 2010
    Thank you for a very interesting article.
    Best, Jonathan

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