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British Government Blocks Beer Merger Over Fear Of Monopoly

Associated Press

The government has blocked Bass PLC’s merger with Carlsberg-Tetley PLC, saying the brewers would control too much of the British beer market.

Trade Secretary Margaret Beckett also said Bass must sell the 50 percent stake it bought in August 1996 in Carlsberg-Tetley, which is owned jointly by Carlsberg AS of Denmark and drinks giant Allied Domecq PLC.

Mrs. Beckett said she accepted the finding of monopoly regulators that the purchase for 200 million pounds - about $334 million - would “operate against the public interest.”

She rejected a conclusion by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission that the deal could proceed if Bass sold 1,900 pubs.

“Mrs. Beckett has decided that the only means of adequately dealing with the competition concerns arising from the significant shift in market power caused by this merger is to prohibit it,” a government statement said.

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