Heineken’s £403 million takeover of pub chain Punch Taverns could see higher beer prices in more than 30 areas across Britain, the competition regulator has warned.
But the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) said it did not believe the tie-up would significantly cut the array of beers available in the 1,895-estate that the Dutch brewer wants to acquire.
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This comes despite Scottish Licensed Trade Association fears that Heineken, which employs 600 at Edinburgh’s South Gyle business park, would give preference to its own beers and ciders and close out other brewers.
The CMA said the Punch pubs being acquired, which will add to 1,100 leased pubs it already owns across the UK, only account for 4 per cent of the market and is “not a major route to market for brewers”.
It added that Heineken was likely not to risk losing customers by reducing the range of beers and ciders on offer. The brewer has to address CMA concerns over the 33 areas where competition could be reduced by 20 June, or face an in-depth probe.
Andrea Coscelli, acting chief executive of the CMA, said: “The companies will own less than 10 per cent of all British pubs after any deal, but we are concerned about the loss of competition for pub goers in a number of local areas [where] pubs might be able to raise prices or worsen service.”