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Stonegate tie-up with pubs giant Ei gets green light from competition watchdog

Joanna Bourke
Press image from pubs owner Stonegate

Stonegate’s planned £3 billion takeover of the UK’s biggest pubs company Ei got the green light from the competition watchdog on Friday.

The Competition and Markets Authority said it will not deepen its probe into the tie-up of Stonegate, behind the Slug & Lettuce and Walkabout chains, with Ei Group, formerly known as Enterprise Inns. The deal will create a pubs giant with around 4800 sites.

The watchdog said in December the swoop could damage competition in 51 local areas. But since then Ei and Stonegate, owned by private-equity firm TDR, have offered a list of 42 sites they can sell to get the deal over the line.

The CMA today said it has accepted this.

Ei’s board first recommended a 285p-a-share offer in July 2019. The deal, including debt, values Ei at nearly £3 billion.

The sale is expected to complete in the first quarter. Simon Longbottom, Stonegate’s chief executive, will lead the group.

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