The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says it will make a ruling on the acquisition of pub chain EI Group PLC (LON:EIG) by Slug & Lettuce owner Stonegate by 19 February.
The regulator voiced concerns in early December that Stonegate’s £3bn takeover of EI could result in a “substantial lessening of competition” in the market, however, since then it had received several undertakings from Stonegate and said there were “reasonable grounds for believing that the undertaking offered, or a modified version of it, might be accepted”.
While the CMA set itself the 19 February date for a decision, it added that this could be extended to 17 April if there were “special reasons for doing so”.
If the merger is approved it will create a company operating around 5,000 pubs in the UK.
In a statement in response to the CMA announcement, FTSE 250-listed EI Group said: "Our expectation remains that the Acquisition will complete in the first quarter of 2020."
Shares in EI Group were 0.1% higher at 283.60p in early morning deals on Friday.
-- Adds EI Group statement, updates share price --