Britain’s competition watchdog has accepted proposals by Heineken to offload pubs in 33 areas to satisfy concerns over its £403 million takeover of Punch Taverns.
The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) said in June that the deal could impact competition and see drinkers face higher prices in 33 locations.
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has been a vocal opponent of the takeover, warning of higher prices for consumers and landlords, job losses and pub closures.
Before the merger was referred for a further in-depth investigation, the companies were given the opportunity to offer proposals to address concerns.
The watchdog said today: “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.
“The CMA is satisfied that its concerns have been addressed and has therefore decided that the merger will not be referred for an in-depth phase two investigation.”
The regulator has previously said the 1,895 Punch pubs being snapped up by Heineken, which it will add to 1,100 leased pubs it already owns across the UK, only account for 4 per cent of the market and are therefore “not a major route to market for brewers”.
Heineken sealed its deal last December to snap up Punch Taverns with private equity firm Patron Capital, having fought off a rival bid from the pub chain’s co-founder Alan McIntosh with a 180p-per-share offer.
Under the deal, Heineken will buy 1,895 pubs, while Patron will acquire 1,329.
SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson has previously said that Heineken’s offer to sell venues “may well tick a box where competition is concerned, but it does nothing to address the significant list of issues voiced by the industry when this merger was announced”.