The proposed acquisition of Scottish & Newcastle by joint bidders Heineken and Carlsberg has raised anti-trust issue concerns following a referral from the Irish Competition Authority to the European Commission.

The deal, which is part of a GBP7.8bn (US$15.3bn) joint bid for S&N by Heineken and Carlsberg, would see the Dutch brewer acquire Beamish & Crawford in the country, potentially creating a duopoly in the Irish on-trade market with Guinness owner Diageo.

Speaking to just-drinks today (5 March), a spokesperson for the Authority said that the decision to seek a partial referral under the EC Merger Regulation (ECMR) was made because "the conditions set out in article nine of the ECMR were satisfied". 

ECMR article nine allows the EU trade body to refer the deal to a national regulator in cases where "concentrations" within an industry threaten to affect competition in the market.

On Monday, the deadline for Heineken's competition inquiry into its proposed acquisition of S&N's assets was extended from 18 March to 4 April.

The spokesperson added: "We would expect to hear from the Commission in the coming weeks in relation to whether or not that portion of the deal will be referred back to us. I understand they have extended their deadline for decision to 4 April, but I have no idea if that has anything to do with our request for partial referral."