Heineken has been given clearance to proceed with its purchase of Eichhof Holdings' beverage division in Switzerland.

The Netherlands-based brewer said today (21 August) that it has received clearance from the Swiss Competition Commission to buy Eichhof Getränke Holding (EGH), whose demerger from Eichhof Holding was approved by shareholders in June. Heineken Switzerland's public tender offer for EGH, which resulted in 162,230 registered shares being tendered - representing an investment of EUR167m (US$261.5m) - expired on 3 July.

The purchase had drawn the attention of the Competition Commission, which had voiced concerns that the move would give Heineken 23% market share in Switzerland, resulting in a duopoly in the country's beer market with Carlsberg's Feldschloesshen brewer.

"The (Competition Commission)'s decision allows Heineken to acquire Eichhof Getränke Holding without any restrictions and therewith to fully attain the strategic goals pursued," said Willem C.A Hosang, managing director of Heineken Switzerland.

EGH will be integrated legally by the end of this year, Heineken said. Until then, it will be run as a separate entity under the proprietary responsibility of Heineken Switzerland.

The company said it is currently reviewing its options with regard to the shares in EGH that have not been tendered yet, which may include a cash squeeze-out merger.

Eichhof owns a brewery in Lucerne, which has a production capacity of 400,000 hectolitres and 2007 domestic beer sales of 361,000 hectolitres. Its main brand, Eichhof, is the leading mainstream beer in the Lucerne region. The company has an estimated 10% market share of the Swiss beer market, while soft drinks and wine account for 45% of total volumes. Heineken already owns one brewery in Switzerland, and currently accounts for 13% market share.