Scottish & Newcastle's £425 million bid for Fosters-owned Courage, the mega brewery deal involving Freshfields and Linklaters & Paines, could be delayed by Government proposals for company undertakings.
The DTI's undertakings aim to ensure the newly-formed business will conform to Government policy relating to pub property ownership, as set out in the MMC's Beer Orders. The S&N deal is set to form the UK's biggest brewer.
Foster's Brewing Group president and chief executive officer Ted Kunkel says: “It is disappointing that there will be a delay to the closing of the transaction but that delay will, I believe, be short. We are confident that a referral to the MMC was not necessary and this development is consistent with that.”
S&N is due to take over the brewing interests of Courage, including supplying 4,350 pubs owned by Inntrepreneur Estates Ltd (IEL).
S&N is instructing a team from Linklaters & Paines including partners Anthony Cann, Robert Swift, Tony Morris and Conor Hurley.
Fosters' Melbourne-based senior in-house lawyer Simon Grant has led his company's team, and instructed a Freshfields team led by Gavin Darlington, Ruth Markland and Michael Thompson.
The DTI undertakings include a reduction in S&N's tied estate by 115 pubs, with a ceiling on numbers at the new level of 2,624 pubs. They also include early release of 1,000 IEL pubs from the supply agreement.
The DTI recognises that the proposed acquisition raises competition concerns in the UK beer market, and will decide whether or not to refer to the MMC after further talks with the OFT.
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