The government’s competition watchdog will press ahead with an "in-depth" investigation into Lloydspharmacy’s acquisition of Sainsbury’s pharmacy business, it has revealed.
The multiple and supermarket giant had until December 18 to address the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) concerns that the £125 million deal would reduce patient choice in 78 areas.
Initially, the CMA told C+D that the two companies had made new proposals to address the concerns, but it announced last week (December 29) that it had received no such plans, and will therefore launch its investigation.
It will make a decision on whether to allow the deal to go ahead by June 16, it said.
Lloyds welcomes investigation
Lloydspharmacy welcomed the investigation as an "opportunity to put our case forward". It still intends to complete the deal – which will see 281 Sainsbury's pharmacies rebranded by the end of February, it told C+D today (January 5).
The CMA told C+D that the companies are allowed to complete the deal, but they "run the risk" of having to "unwind" this process depending on the outcome of its investigation.
The investigation process
The CMA will write to interested parties, including Lloydspharmacy’s rivals, to gather opinions on the deal, the watchdog said.
The "wide-ranging" investigation will also seek input from customers and independent pharmacists, it said. Anyone with a view on the merger can email their views to [email protected].
A panel of experts – usually consisting of economists and lawyers – will assess all the views and make a final decision on the deal, the CMA added.