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UK CMA says Heineken and Punch must resolve concerns over pub merger

Staff Writer |
The UK Competition & Markets Authority (CMA)said it has found that Dutch brewer Heineken NV's proposed acquisition of part of the Punch Taverns PLC estate could reduce competition in 33 local areas across the UK.

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The CMA noted that Heineken must now offer proposals to address these concerns by June 20 or face an in-depth investigation into the merger.

The CMA also said the merger will be referred for an in-depth phase 2 investigation by an independent group of CMA panel members, unless Heineken is able to offer undertakings which sufficiently address the CMA's competition concerns. Heineken has until 20 June 2017 to do so.

In response, Punch Taverns said the companies are confident that those proposals would enable the transaction to be approved by the CMA without a Phase 2 referral and that completion will occur by the end of August as planned. Further announcements will be made in due course, Punch said.

Heineken is proposing to buy about 1,900 pubs from Punch Taverns in a deal also involving private equity firm Patron Capital Partners.

Heineken and Patron will split Punch into two businesses post acquisition.

Patron will initially acquire Punch for GBP402.7 million, following which Heineken will pay Patron GBP305.0 million to acquire around 1,900 of Punch's 3,300 pubs.

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