Heineken has offered to sell dozens of Punch Taverns pubs to ease concerns over competition and secure its £403m takeover.
Earlier this month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) warned the brewing giant that its purchase of part of the Punch Taverns estate could reduce competition in 33 local areas across the UK after an initial investigation.
Heineken has now offered to sell pubs in each of the affected areas, and the CMA said the proposals, or a modified version of them, may be an acceptable solution to the competition concerns.
A spokesperson for Heineken said: “We welcome confirmation from the CMA that only a small number of pubs are required to be sold. It’s a sensible outcome and good news for pub-goers across the UK who will see the benefit of well invested pubs in their communities.”
The CMA's investigation revealed there were 33 local areas where pubs would not face sufficient competition after the merger, which could lead to price increases or a deterioration in the quality of service on offer.
Now the CMA has until 22 August to decide whether to accept the new proposals, although it may decide to extend the deadline to 17 October under special circumstances. A public consultation will be part of the process.
Punch shareholders approved Heineken's 180p per share takeover offer in February, but despite the fact that it will own less than 10 per cent of all British pubs after any deal, the watchdog and pub landlords have raised concerns that customers will face fewer options.