The Competition Commission has given provisional clearance for the merger of Britvic and AG Barr.

The competition authority said in its provisional conclusion that it believes the proposed merger would not result in a substantial lessening of competition. The Competition Commission is expected to publish its final report by 30 July, the statutory deadline for completion of its inquiry.

Competition Commission deputy chairman Alasdair Smith, who chaired the inquity into the propsoed merger, said: “We have provisionally concluded that customers will not lose out from the merged Barr/Britvic. Given the size of this market and the number of consumers who could be potentially affected, it was important to examine the likely effects carefully.

“Carrying out a full investigation gave us the chance to look in detail at consumer preferences. These told us that most consumers tend to see Barr and Britvic brands as distinct products rather than as close substitutes for each other. Looking at consumer preferences and other evidence, we were able to conclude that the proposed merger was unlikely to substantially lessen competition.”

In a statement, AG Barr said: “The board of AG Barr believes this is a significant positive step and in light of this will continue to work closely with the Competition Commission throughout the remainder of the inquiry with a view to reconsidering a merger (although pursuant to the Takeover Code no new merger may be formally announced until the Competition Commission has published its final report).”

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) made the referral to the Competition Commission in February after its investigation found the acquisition raised competition concerns with respect to the loss of the competitive constraint from some of Britvic’s brands on Barr’s Irn Bru and Orangina brands.