Business History Review


How Scottish & Newcastle Became the U.K.'s Largest Brewer: A Case of Regulatory Capture?

Julie Bower and Howard Cox


Firms engage in a multitude of interactions with the external environment, most critically with government and its regulatory agencies. Despite an extensive literature on “regulatory capture,” little attention has been paid to the interactions between merging firms and competition authorities. Yet the possibility of capture exists where there is a recurring series of merger investigations of one firm by the same authority. This analysis of the impact of political influence on the merger history of the brewing firm Scottish & Newcastle extends into a discussion of regulatory capture in the oversight of British brewery mergers during the 1980s and 1990s.

Julie Bower is postdoctoral research fellow at Worcester Business School at the University of Worcester in the United Kingdom. She received her PhD in 2007 from the University of Warwick under an Economic and Social Research Council award. During the 1990s, she was employed as an investment analyst in the City of London, most recently as director and head of European Beverages Sector Research at Schroder Securities (Europe) Ltd. She has published extensively on the strategic and financial aspects of British and European alcoholic-beverages firms.

Howard Cox is director of research at Worcester Business School at the University of Worcester in the United Kingdom. While considering the evolution of international firms, he has written about the international tobacco industry, food processing and retailing, magazine publishing, and multinational trading companies. In 2000 he was awarded the title of professor of international business history, and he has held visiting research and teaching positions at Zhongshan University in China and at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.