Interbrew, the Belgian brewing group, can go ahead with its proposed acquisition of the German brewer Gilde following clearance of the deal by the European Commission.
The Commission found that the acquisition of Brauergilde Hannover by Interbrew raised no competition concerns and therefore decided to clear the acquisition unconditionally.
In a statement, the Commission said: "The transaction concerns the production and distribution of beer in Germany and to a small extent in the UK, Italy and Belgium. In the latter three countries, however, the impact on the beer markets is negligible.
"The Commission's investigation of the deal's impact in Germany also indicated that the acquisition will not raise any competition concerns since a large number of competitors remain on the country's highly fragmented market."
Interbrew said that more than 95.6 per cent of Gilde's shares had already been tendered following its offer, and the German company's shareholders have given their approval to the deal, which should now be completed by the end of the year.
"By adding the Gilde brands to its portfolio, Interbrew will further enhance the diversity and attractiveness of its product offering on the German market. Important brands such as Hasseröder, Gilde and Wolters will complement Interbrew Germany's brands portfolio and strengthen its local platform. As a result of this important transaction, Interbrew will bring its German platform to a leading position with a market share of 8.5 per cent," the company said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Interbrew has also announced the appointment of John F Brock as its new chief executive officer, with effect from 1 February 2003. Brock was chief operating officer at UK confectionery and soft drinks group Cadbury Schweppes and will succeed Hugo Powell, who is retiring after 19 years with Interbrew.