Stonegate/Ei deal approved by CMA

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Ongoing discussions: the deal was first announced in July last year
Ongoing discussions: the deal was first announced in July last year

Related tags: Stonegate, Ei Group

The Competition Markets Authority (CMA) has passed the proposed acquisition of Ei Group by Stonegate Pub Company, after the pubcos satisfied the watchdog that a set number of pubs would be sold to avoid potential monopolies.

Last month (January), the CMA suggested Ei Group and Stonegate should put 42 pubs on the market​ ahead of the proposed merger.

The watchdog made the recommendation after it previously identified “local concerns” about a monopoly, with fears that some areas could experience raised prices and lower-quality products.

Stonegate intends to acquire Ei Group for £1.27bn, a move that would make the former the largest pub company in the country with around 5,000 sites.

In a notice issued on 9 January, it said the sale of 42 pubs “might be acceptable as a suitable remedy” to local competition concerns.  

It assessed whether each of the pubs proposed by the companies were “saleable” and “likely to continue in operation after the divestment” and concluded they were.

The watchdog said it had seen evidence there are “several potential suitable purchasers who have expressed an interest” in acquiring the pubs.

However, the CMA has now said it accepted Stonegate’s undertakings about its concerns and there would not be a full-scale investigation.

The acquisition will be effective from 3 March and means Stonegate will be the largest pub operator in the UK, with a total portfolio of about 5,000 venues.

Stonegate agreed to buy Ei Group for £1.27bn​ last year (July). The deal would mean Stonegate’s estate would rise by 4,000 sites, making it the largest pub owner.

Stonegate is an experienced managed pub operator, with a record of investing more than £350m into its estate since 2010, including £71m in 2018.

The company also won five awards at last year’s Publican Awards, including Best Pub Employer, Best Managed Pub Company and Best Community Pub Operator.

Related topics: Ei Group

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