Competition regulators are launching an investigation into the £780 million merger between brewing companies Carlsberg and Marston’s.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it would establish whether the deal announced in June could reduce competition in the UK, although it emphasised that no decision has been made.

CAMRA has called for an investigation of the merger saying it would reduce the choice of beers available to consumers.

CAMRA chief executive Tom Stainer said: “CAMRA is pleased that the Competition and Markets Authority has listened to our calls and opened an initial investigation into the proposed Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company.

“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 pub-goers.

“This is why the CMA must make sure that 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 joint venture with Carlsberg UK values Marston’s brewing business, including Banks’s, Hobgoblin and Marston’s Pedigree, at £580 million and the Carlsberg UK brewing business at £200m.

Marston’s will have a 40 per cent stake and Carlsberg 60 per cent.

Marston’s will continue to operate its pubs and restaurants separately from the brewing operation.

In a statement the CMA said: “The Competition and Markets Authority is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 and, if so, whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.”

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