The competition watchdog today said it has opened a probe into a proposed £780m tie-up between beer giants Carlsberg and Marston’s.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was considering whether the deal would create a relevant merger situation and damage competition.
In May the two companies announced plans to combine their brewing businesses in a bid to cut costs.
The joint venture will value Marston’s brewing division at up to £580m and Carlsberg’s at £200m.
But Marston’s, which owns beer brands including Courage, Young’s and Hobgoblin, will only own 40 per cent of the merged firm — Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company. It will receive £273m in case upon completion of the deal.
The proposed deal has been met with some opposition, with lobby group the Campaign for Real Ale warning it was a “red flag” to British drinkers and pub goers.
“If this joint venture goes ahead, we would see further consolidation of the brewing industry into just a few large, international players — to the detriment of our national brewing heritage, consumer choice, the diversity of beer in pubs across the country and the access to market for the small, independent brewing industry,” said chief executive Tom Stainer.
The CMA’s intervention means the deal has been pushed back at least four weeks from its original expected completion date in September.
The watchdog said interested parties had until 2 September to comment on the transaction.