The Competition and Markets Authority has set a new deadline for the first phase of its investigation into the proposed takeover of Punch.

The CMA has twice halted the assessment period to allow information and documents to be filed.

Yesterday it announced that the new deadline for the preliminary assessment period is now 15 June.

The phase one investigation is designed to “assess whether the deal could reduce competition and choice for customers”.

If it finds this to be the case, the CMA would launch an in-depth merger investigation, which can last up to 24 weeks, unless undertakings are offered that satisfactorily address concerns.

Heineken’s joint bid for the 3,200-strong Punch estate with patron Capital, would see it eventually take on the 1,900 pubs with the Punch A group with Patron keeping the remaining sites in Punch B.

Punch chief executive Duncan Garrood said last week that he expected the deal to be completed before the end of August.