An enforcement order issued by the CMA this week (October 17) said it would investigate whether or not a merger had taken place and if it would affect competition in the market.
“The CMA is considering … whether it is, or may be the case, that a relevant merger situation has been created and whether the creation of that situation has resulted or may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market or markets in the UK.”
The investigation comes less than a month since Bernard Matthews was purchased in a pre-pack administration deal by Boparan Private Office.
Put on hold
Integration plans for the two companies will be put on hold until the CMA is satisfied that a monopoly has not been created by the purchase.
There is currently no deadline set for the launch of phase one of the enquiry, or a decision.
FoodManufacture.co.uk has approached Boparan Private Office for comment.
The sale of Bernard Matthews also drew scrutiny for being “carefully crafted” to extract maximum value for creditors while dumping the pension scheme, according to a House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee.
It could also leave hundreds of businesses out of pocket and force some to close, said industry insiders.
Clarke Willis, group chief executive of Anglia Farmers, described the potential fallout as “fairly massive”, adding that he knew of suppliers that were owed “hundreds of thousands of pounds”.
The Bernard Matthews takeover followed a string of acquisitions by Ranjit Boparan this year.
The most recent deal focused on the restaurant chain Ed’s Easy Diner, which became the third restaurant acquisition by the 2 Sisters Food Group owner this year.
The deal included 33 of the company’s 59 restaurants, plus the brand name and Ed’s head office team.
Meanwhile, don’t miss our photogallery charting Boparan’s food business acquisitions this year – so far.