Heineken's Takeover of 1,900 Punch Pubs Cleared by U.K.'s CMA

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(Bloomberg) -- Heineken NV avoided an in-depth probe into its purchase of 1,900 Punch Taverns Plc pubs after the U.K. antitrust regulator accepted concessions offered to meet its concerns over prices and service levels.

The Competition and Markets Authority said Friday it’s satisfied that issues it raised have been addressed and decided that a so-called phase 2 investigation isn’t necessary.

“Heineken has 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 said in a statement. The U.K. regulator had previously identified 33 areas where Heineken and Punch pubs wouldn’t face sufficient competition.

Heineken teamed up with Patron Capital in December to buy Punch Taverns for 402.7 million pounds ($519 million), edging out a co-founder of the company who was also preparing a bid. The deal would see Patron pay 180 pence a share in cash, with Heineken in turn paying the investment company 305 million pounds for the 1,900 pubs. The purchase adds to the 1,049 taverns Heineken controls in the U.K. through its Star Pubs & Bars business.

A Heineken spokesman said the Dutch brewer expects to complete the deal by the end of this month.

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