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OFT to examine infrastructure ownership

The Office of Fair Trading is to conduct a stock-take of ownership and control across UK infrastructure, it revealed today.

The competition watchdog said it wanted to map ownership and control in the economic infrastructure sectors – such as ports, airports and energy, communications and water networks – and assess how it affects consumers in each market.

The OFT said it would examine the different forms of ownership, such as private equity ownership, statutory corporations, infrastructure investment funds and limited companies, as well as who controls what assets. It will exclude schools and hospitals from the stock-take, however.

The stock-take may lead to a more in-depth investigation is specific competition or consumer issues are identified in any of the sectors, the OFT warned.

Heather Clayton, senior director of its infrastructure group said: “Effective infrastructure is crucial to the performance and productivity of the UK economy, and the quality of life of UK consumers.

“There have been significant changes in ownership of infrastructure assets in both regulated and unregulated sectors of the economy over the past decade. We want to take this opportunity to step back and assess how these developments might have affected competition and consumers.”