Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chief executive Tom Stainer said the the organisation was pleased the competition watchdog had listened to its calls and opened an initial investigation into the new business.
“We will now be asking the CMA to move to a full investigation, given our serious concerns about anti-competitive effects of the joint venture, including market foreclosure for small brewers, which will reduce choice for beer drinkers and pubgoers," he explained.
“This is why the CMA must make sure any merger does not stifle fair competition, access to market for brewers and ensure decent consumer choice of beer in pubs up and down the country.”
The CMA's invitation to comment on the proposal closes on 2 September 2020 and those who wish to make written representations about any competition or public interest here.
The proposed agreement to form a giant beer company was first announced in May this year. The venture, which will create the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, values Marston’s Brewing Business at up to £580m and Carlsberg UK Brewing Business at £200m.
Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company will boast assets including Carlsberg UK’s Northampton brewery, London Fields Brewery and national distribution centre, as well as Marston’s six national and regional breweries – Marston’s, Banks’s, Wychwood, Jennings, Ringwood and Eagle – plus 11 distribution depots.
The transaction terms also mean the new brewing company will have access to Marston’s pub estate for its beer portfolio, which is enshrined through a long-term supply and distribution agreement.
CAMRA previously called upon the CMA to ‘step up to the plate’ and investigate the creation of the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company.
In an appeal to the competition body’s chief executive, Dr Andrea Coscelli, CAMRA’s Stainer explained the joint venture could have anti-competitive effects on the UK beer and pub market.