Heineken courts CMA approval

Brewer and pubco offers to sell pubs to appease competition concerns

The CMA has until August 22 to decide whether to accept the offer.
The CMA has until August 22 to decide whether to accept the offer.

HEINEKEN has offered to sell pubs in 33 local areas across the UK in a bid to ease concerns raised by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over its planned acquisition of 1900 pubs from Punch.

As part of its initial investigation into the takeover, the CMA ruled that Star Pubs & Bars, the pubs arm of Heineken, would own less than 10% of British pubs after the deal.

But acting chief executive Andrea Coscelli said the CMA was “concerned about the loss of competition for pub-goers in a number of local areas”.

“Without sufficient competition from rivals, pubs in these areas might be able to raise prices or worsen the service they offer customers,” he said.

Heineken last week offered to sell pubs in each of the 33 highlighted areas in order to address the CMA’s concerns and allow the deal to proceed.

A statement from the CMA said the organisation “has decided that there are reasonable grounds for believing that these proposals, or a modified version of them, might be acceptable to remedy the competition concerns it has identified”.

The CMA has until August 22 to decide whether or not it will accept Heineken’s offer, although it can extend that deadline until October 17 if it needs to.

If the organisation decides not to accept the offer then the merger will be referred for an in-depth investigation.

The CMA is not currently releasing details of which 33 areas it is concerned about, and a spokesman refused to confirm whether any are in Scotland.

It will release full details of the areas affected when it has announced its decision.