The Takeover Panel, the City watchdog, has officially ruled there was no collusion between shareholders in the battle to control pub giant Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), writes Chris Druce. In a statement to the stock market M&B said “the Takeover Panel has now finished its investigations and concluded that no agreement or understanding was reached between any party to act in concert for the purposes of the City Code, between 15 October 2009 and the date of this announcement”. M&B said it welcomed the panel’s conclusion and looked forward to putting in place its plans to develop several key brands to push the company’s performance onwards. The regulator was asked in November to look at allegations that M&B's largest shareholders, including 23% stakeholder Joe Lewis, had been seeking to gain control of the company. In the subsequent boardroom battle incumbent chairman Simon Laffin was voted out by shareholders and replaced by the Joe Lewis nominated John Lovering.