Competition authority to examine Heineken’s Punch takeover

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is to examine Heineken’s takeover of Punch Taverns to see if it will result in “a substantial lessening of competition”.
Heineken and Patron Capital, using newco Vine Acquisitions as a bidding vehicle, have agreed a deal to buy Burton-upon-Trent-based Punch.
Immediately on completion of the deal, Heineken will acquire from Patron a portfolio of around 1,900 Punch pubs with Patron retaining an additional 1,329 which it will run itself.
The CMA has invited comments on the transaction, with a March 2 deadline, and expects to announce a decision on April 24.
Last week Colin Valentine, national chairman of real ale drinkers’ group CAMRA, said drinkers needed assurances the deal would not restrict choice.
In an open letter to Heineken he wrote: “We are concerned that the proposed acquisition could lead to a lessening of competition in the on-trade beer market and therefore a reduction in choice, not only for our members but for the many millions of beer drinkers and pub goers across the country.
“We note that Heineken already has an existing market share of 24% in the on-trade and has a declared policy of restricting the access of competitors to the pubs that they own.”