The CMA has opened an investigation into Heineken’s proposed £305m acquisition of part of the Punch Taverns pubs portfolio.
The first phase of the investigation is currently scheduled to last until 24 April 2017.
During this period, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will assess whether the deal could reduce competition and choice for customers.
Heineken plans to take on 1,900 Punch pubs after agreeing a deal with Vine Acquisitions Limited. It then intends to fully integrate into its own Star Pubs & Bars business.
If it could reduce competition, the CMA will launch an in-depth merger investigation, which lasts up to 24 weeks, unless the merging parties offer undertakings which address any competition concerns identified.
The organisation said that more details will be available in due course.
Heineken entered the UK pub market as part of its acquisition of Scottish & Newcastle’s operations in the UK in 2008. Since then it has made significant progress building the Star division, having invested more than £20m per annum since 2014, and resulting in an estate which now comprises 1,049 leased and tenanted pubs.
Should the transaction complete without any hold-ups, Heineken UK will become the third-largest pub business, in what remains a highly fragmented pub market.