The Competition Commission has highlighted the areas it aims to examine in its inquiry into a controversial books deal.
It concerns the proposed takeover by HMV Media, the music and Waterstone's chain, of Ottakar's, the specialist book retailer.
Publishing its "issues statement" the CC said it would assess the competitive effects of a merger, what would be likely to occur in the absence of the deal, market definition, and relevant customer benefits that might arise.
If the inquiry considers it may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition, it will consider whether and, if so, what remedies might be appropriate.
The CC also has the power to block the deal.
HMV's 440 pence a share, £100 million, agreed takeover was referred by the Office of Fair Trading to the Commission in December after fierce protests from consumer groups.
The CC is required to publish its final report by May 22, although the inquiry group hopes to publish provisional findings by the end of March.
Following the referral HMV's offer lapsed.
Analysts were particularly interested that amongst the issues the CC has identified is what would happen if the merger was not allowed to proceed.
"It is most sensible that the CC is looking at this point, because having regard to where Ottakar's profits are going and the competition in the trade from the supermarkets, it is clear that economy of scale is needed," noted Richard Ratner, analyst at Seymour Pierce.
He expects the CC to clear the deal, but does not expect HMV to offer as much as 440 pence again.