Greene King's bid for Spirit hits competition concerns

Greene King pub Image copyright Greene King

Greene King's £775m offer for Spirit Pub Company could hurt competition, the competition regulator has said.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says the deal will be referred for an in-depth investigation unless "acceptable undertakings are offered".

The CMA's initial investigation found that about 1,000 Sprit pubs overlap with a Greene King pub in a local area.

Both companies say they are putting proposals to the CMA that will address those issues.

Sheldon Mills, CMA senior director of mergers, said: "Greene King and Spirit now have the opportunity to resolve these concerns by offering appropriate undertakings."

The CMA is the UK's main consumer and competition authority.

Spirit, based in Staffordshire, was split off from Punch Taverns in 2011. It runs the Chef & Brewer and Flaming Grill chains.

Suffolk-based Greene King runs 1,900 pubs, restaurants and hotels across the UK, including the Loch Fyne Seafood and Grill and Hungry Horse chains.

The planned deal is part of Greene King's shift into restaurants and pubs that serve food.

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand called the CMA's decision "sensible". He said: "We are confident we will be able to offer suitable undertakings, which will keep the number of pubs we need to sell to a minimum and allow the acquisition to complete before the end of June."

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