The European Commission today (Thursday) cleared Scottish & Newcastle's purchase of a 49% stake in Centralcontrol which owns Centralcer, the second largest brewer in Portugal.

Brussels said that S&N had only a marginal presence in the local wholesale market and the deal would not change the Portuguese beer sector. S&N will share control of Centralcontrol with VTR SGPS SA, a holding company representing Banco Espirito Santo, Parfil, Fundaçao Bissaya Barreto, Olinveste and STDP.

Centralcer has about 38% of the Portuguese beer market at the retail level. Its main brand is Sagres with a share of around 34%.

Other brands include Topazio, Cergal and Golden. The other big player in Portuguese beer is Unicer with 60% of the market.

Both companies were criticised in June by the Portuguese Competition Council for "anti-competitive practices regarding exclusive distribution contracts with wholesalers, namely abuse of economic dependence and resale price fixing."

Alan Osborn