UK Merger Insights 2023 No. 2

Here’s a selection of some of recent articles and speeches relevant to UK merger control……………..

1. Mark-ups

Here Ian Small examines what mark-ups tell us about competition and merger control in Europe.

2. Cerelia/Jus-Rol

Christopher Hutton and colleagues take a look at the Cerelia/Jus-Rol decision – link here.

For more on why this case wasn’t as unusual as it might seem, see this post from my blog.

3. Tougher Merger Control Ahead?

In this article Ninette Dodoo and colleagues envisage tougher merger control worldwide. Which points apply to the UK?

4. Too Interventionist?

CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell rebuts criticisms of the CMA’s approach to merger control in this speech. I’ll be looking at some of the points she discusses in forthcoming blog posts

5. The Power Of Competition

In this speech, new CMA Chairman, Marcus Bokkerink, draws on his 30 years’ business experience to reflect on what competition means and the role of the CMA.


Click here if you would like to see my previous selection of articles

The Great Bake … Off

Cérélia/Jus-Rol

On January 20th the CMA announced its first merger prohibition of the new year by concluding that merger between Cérélia andJus-Rol is likely to reduce competition substantially and that Jus-Rol needs to be sold to an independent buyer.

It is unusual to see a case in the food manufacturing sector referred to a Phase 2 inquiry. In fact it’s only the second time for the CMA, out of 29 cases to date.

And this is the first to be prohibited.

According to the CMA, Jus-Rol is by far the largest supplier of branded ready-to-bake products in the UK, while Cérélia is the largest supplier of own-label ready-to-bake products, making these items on behalf of some of the nation’s largest grocery retailers.

Key to the CMA’s Phase 2 conclusion were the following findings:

  • the merger brings together the 2 leading suppliers in the market by a considerable margin – ready-to-bake items supplied by Cérélia and Jus-Rol account for nearly two-thirds of all such products sold to grocery retailers in the UK.
  • Jus-Rol items compete with supermarkets’ own-label products supplied by Cérélia for the same space on many supermarket shelves.
  • grocery customers regard the companies’ products to be important alternatives to one another – particularly because there are few credible alternative suppliers of either branded or own-label products.
  • the merging businesses face limited competition, with all other suppliers being far smaller and many of them lacking the capabilities held by Cérélia and Jus-Rol.

So is this food sector prohibition as unusual as it might seem?

Not if you look more widely than this particular sector.

According to my analysis there have been 10 previous deals with the same pattern of key evidence, across all sectors. Only two have raised no significant competition problems and none have so far survived the Phase 2 process.


The link to the CMA’s Phase 2 report is here.