The Office of Fair Trading has referred the £75.7m acquisition of own label soft drinks manufacturer Macaw by Cott Beverages to the Competition Commission.
The OFT said the deal, which was agreed in August, would mean that Cott would supply 57% of own label carbonated soft drinks in the UK and raised concerns that it would lead to higher prices.
Andrew Murfin, MD of Cott UK, said: “We are confident that the commission will agree that this acquisition does nothing to diminish the robust competition that currently exists among non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers.” He added that Cott would fully co-operate with the review.
The Competition Commission is expected to report back its findings by May 15, 2006.
The OFT’s decision could place a question mark over the clearance of Premier Foods’ acquisition of meat-free and organic food producer Cauldron Foods, which it bought last month for £27m.
Premier owns vegetarian brand Quorn and the deal would give it a stronghold in the chilled vegetarian sector. The OFT is inviting comments on the deal, with a deadline of December 19.