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UK Regulator Halts Pennon’s Takeover Pending Investigation

 |  January 14, 2024

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has imposed an enforcement order on the takeover deal between Pennon and Sumisho Osaka Gas Water UK. The regulatory move aims to prevent the complete integration of the two entities while a comprehensive investigation into the acquisition is conducted.

Pennon, a prominent UK water utility, announced its intentions on Wednesday to acquire Sutton and East Surrey Water, a subsidiary of Sumisho Osaka Gas Water UK, along with related companies. The deal, valued at £89 million ($113.4 million), immediately drew the attention of the CMA, prompting the regulatory body to step in and initiate an investigation.

The enforcement order issued by the CMA restricts Pennon and Sumisho Osaka Gas Water UK from proceeding with the full integration of their operations until the regulatory body completes its thorough examination of the deal. The move underscores the authority’s commitment to ensuring fair competition and safeguarding the interests of consumers in the water utilities sector.

The acquisition by Pennon of Sutton and East Surrey Water is a strategic move that could potentially reshape the landscape of the U.K. water industry. However, the CMA’s intervention indicates concerns over the impact of the merger on competition within the sector and the potential consequences for consumers.

Read more: UK’s CMA Increasingly Hostile to Business, Says INEOS Chair

Industry analysts suggest that the investigation will likely delve into various aspects of the deal, including its potential effects on pricing, service quality, and market competition. The CMA will assess whether the merger could result in a monopoly or have adverse effects on consumer choice and affordability.

Pennon’s acquisition of Sutton and East Surrey Water is part of its broader expansion strategy, and the regulatory scrutiny comes at a crucial juncture for the company. The water utility will need to cooperate fully with the CMA’s investigation, providing the necessary information and addressing any concerns raised by the regulatory body.

Source: Market watch