The merger now has permission to go ahead

The merger now has permission to go ahead

The UK's Competition Commission has given "provisional" clearance to the merger of AG Barr and Britvic, saying it does expect the tie-up to lessen competition. 

In its initial findings, published today (11 June), the body said it did not believe the deal will force up wholesale prices and the two companies' brands were not close competitors. A final ruling on the merger, first announced in September, is due by the end of next month. 

"We have provisionally concluded that customers will not lose out from the merged Barr/Britvic," said Alasdair Smith, the commission's deputy chairman & chairman of the Barr/Britvic Inquiry Group. 

Its investigation found that "consumers tend to see Barr and Britvic brands as distinct products rather than as close substitutes for each other", Smith added. 

Britvic and AG Barr both welcomed the announcement. 

In a statement, the Irn Bru producer said the findings were a "significant positive step" and it will continue to work "closely" with the Competition Commission with a view to reconsidering a merger. 

Gerald Corbett, chairman of Britvic, whose brands include Robinsons, Tango, and the UK licences for Pepsi and 7UP, said: “We welcome the Competition Commission’s provisional findings and await their final conclusions by the end of July." 

The deal, which will create the company Barr Britvic Soft Drinks, was referred to the commission by the Office of Fair Trading in February.

To see just-drinks' full coverage of AG Barr and Britvic's proposed merger, click here.