Carlsberg and Marston’s are said to be allowed to team up on a £ 780 million deal, even if that could result in pubs selling fewer beers from independent brands.
Both companies are large beer and cider brewers and offer related services, such as the wholesale supply of pubs and restaurants with their own beverages and beverages from other manufacturers. Marston’s also owns a significant number of pubs across the UK.
The decision by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) follows an investigation into various ways the agreement could affect competition in the supply of beer and cider in the UK.
Because pubs currently owned or operated by Marston may sell less independent brands in favor of more Carlsberg products after the merger, the CMA was looking to see if the business could affect access to pubs for smaller independent brewers.
However, the CMA noted that Marston’s pubs represent only a small fraction of the potential UK brewer customer base and that post-merger independent brewers would continue to have sufficient access to pubs to compete effectively.
The CMA also examined whether the combination of the wholesale services offered by the two companies, through which they distribute their own drinks and those of other manufacturers to pubs and restaurants, could lead to competition concerns. While the creation of the joint venture results in the two companies likely to distribute their products more frequently and possibly less leeway for other brands, the CMA noted that after the merger, brewers will continue to have sufficient alternative wholesalers to choose from can .
Regarding their role as brewers, the CMA noted that Carlsberg and Marston have different emphases, meaning that competition between the two companies is generally limited at the moment, with Carlsberg mainly focused on making lager and Marston on ale . They also face multiple competitors in all product categories in which they are both active.
The CMA’s investigation has therefore shown that the deal does not raise any competition concerns.