UK – The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has escalated its scrutiny of the proposed acquisition of Tereos’ UK assets by T&L Sugars, moving the investigation to its second phase under the Enterprise Act 2002. 

The Act provides for CMA the authority to obtain, compile and keep under review information relating to the carrying out of its functions to ensure that it has sufficient information to take informed decisions and to carry out its other functions effectively. 

According to the CMA, Tate & Lyle Sugars failed to address the regulator’s concerns raised in the preliminary findings released on 8th March.  

Sorcha O’Carroll, senior director of mergers at the CMA, explained that T&L Sugars “informed the CMA that they would not offer such undertakings.” 

Both companies were given until 15th March to provide evidence to alleviate the watchdog’s concerns, but they did not comply, prompting the CMA to initiate an “in-depth” investigation, scheduled to conclude by 5th September. 

In the initial phase, the CMA identified risks of inflated sugar prices for UK consumers and a potential reduction in competition.  

O’Carroll highlighted the concerns, stating, “The deal would bring together two of the three players in the UK sugar sector, reducing competition and choice further for people and businesses.” 

The proposed merger between T&L Sugars and Tereos would leave only one other major competitor, British Sugar, in the UK market, leading to increased market concentration. This concentration, as O’Carroll noted, could result in higher prices for retailers and consumers alike. 

Tereos’ UK and Ireland unit, based in Normanton, West Yorkshire, is responsible for packaging and distributing Whitworths’ branded and private-label sugar products. 

Meanwhile, Tate & Lyle Sugars, owned by ASR Group International, operates from its London headquarters, supplying a range of sugar and sweetener products to UK retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice businesses. 

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