Deadline day for Littlewoods/GUS ruling arrives

Today is the deadline for a decision on whether to refer to the Competition Commission the controversial merger of Littlewoods' and GUS's home shopping businesses.

Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt must okay the planned deal or pass it on to the Commission for further scrutiny.

The proposed tie-up has caused some industry disquiet because the combined enterprise would be a home-shopping powerhouse with a combined turnover of£3 billion and a 70 per cent agency market share.

Littlewoods' owners the Barclay brothers bought GUS's home shopping arm for£590 million in May, but may be forced to sell all or part of it if the merger is vetoed.