Press release

CMA confirms clearance of packaging merger

The CMA has formally cleared the completed acquisition by Sonoco Products Company of Weidenhammer Packaging Group.

A person taking a crisp from a tube.

The inquiry group of independent Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) panel members assessing the merger has today confirmed its provisional findings, which were published in May.

Sonoco and Weidenhammer both produce composite cans (rigid tubes with closures on each end) which are supplied to customers for packaging both food and non-food products. Typical uses include packaging for food products such as gravy granules, chocolate powder, crisps, crackers and coffee, and non-food products such as tobacco and insect repellent. Both companies have UK subsidiaries with domestic production plants.

The group believes customers of composite cans for food products, namely food manufacturers, will be protected from the risk of the merged company raising prices, or reducing quality, through their ability to switch to other suppliers, to alternative forms of packaging or to move to self-supply.

In addition, it is likely that if prices increased (or quality decreased) new firms would enter this market, potentially sponsored by larger customers looking for alternative suppliers.

The CMA referred the case for an in-depth phase 2 investigation in January 2015.

The final report and all other information relating to the inquiry are available on the case page.

Notes for editors

  1. The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law. From 1 April 2014 it took over the functions of the Competition Commission and the competition and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading, as amended by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.
  2. All the CMA’s functions in phase 2 merger inquiries are performed by inquiry groups chosen from the CMA’s panel members. The appointed inquiry group are the decision makers on phase 2 inquiries.
  3. The CMA’s panel members come from a variety of backgrounds, including economics, law, accountancy and/or business; the membership of an inquiry group usually reflects a mix of expertise and experience (including industry experience).
  4. The members of the Sonoco/Weidenhammer inquiry group are: Martin Cave (Chairman), John Harley, Michael Hutchings and Jayne Scott.
  5. Enquiries should be directed to Rory Taylor (rory.taylor@cma.gsi.gov.uk, 020 3738 6798).
  6. For information on the CMA see our homepage, or follow us on Twitter @CMAgovuk, Flickr and LinkedIn. Sign up to our email alerts to receive updates on merger cases.
Published 3 July 2015