Heineken to sell Punch pubs to satisfy CMA

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is to consider whether proposals offered by Heineken will address competition concerns over its £403m acquisition of Punch Taverns and remove the need for an in-depth investigation.

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

Heineken has now 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 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.

As part of an initial investigation, the CMA looked in detail at areas where pubs operated by Heineken and Punch currently compete. It has identified 33 local areas where their pubs would not face sufficient competition after the merger, which could lead to price increases or a deterioration in the quality of the service on offer.

The CMA has until 22 August 2017 to consider whether to accept the undertakings, although it may decide to extend this deadline to 17 October 2017 if it decides that there are special reasons for doing so.

As part of its process, the CMA will undertake a public consultation.

If the CMA does not accept the undertakings proposed, the merger will be referred for an in-depth investigation.