UK: Competition regulator gives Heineken green light in Punch Taverns takeover

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21 Aug 2017 --- Britain’s competition watchdog says Heineken’s proposal to sell off pubs in 33 areas does satisfy previous antitrust concerns about the US$519 million takeover of Punch Taverns. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK says the Dutch beer giant has cleared all hurdles in relation to the takeover and has avoided further investigation.

In June 2017, the CMA said that Heineken’s proposed purchase of part of the Punch Taverns estate could reduce competition in 33 local areas across the UK. It was also concerned that the merger would close off an important route to market for brewers that compete with Heineken.

Before the merger was referred for a further in-depth investigation, the companies were given the opportunity to offer proposals to address these concerns.

At the time, Heineken said it intended to offer “acceptable undertakings” and was confident that these would enable the transaction to be approved by the CMA without a phase two referral.

Heineken has offered to sell pubs in each of the affected areas to preserve competition and ensure customers in these locations do not lose out, as reported in FoodIngredientsFirst at the time

The majority of the pubs are in the north of England or Scotland and the sales are expected to be completed soon. Punch originally agreed to the takeover in December last year.

Under the new deal, Heineken will become the third largest pub company in Britain after Greene King and Enterprise Inna. 

A statement from the CMA confirms the clearance.

“Heineken has offered to sell pubs in each of the affected areas to preserve competition and ensure customers in these locations do not lose out,” it says. 

“Before reaching a final decision, the CMA carefully assessed and consulted publicly on these proposed undertakings. The CMA is satisfied that its concerns have been addressed.” 

Heineken has made several acquisitions this year. In June, the brewer completed the transaction to acquire Brasil Kirin Holding S.A. (Brasil Kirin) from Kirin Holdings Company, Limited. 

In addition, it also agreed to buy the remaining stake in the California-based craft brewer Lagunitas. 

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