And then there were two. Or were there? The ACCC announced today it has moved to oppose the proposed Asahi Holdings buyout of P&N Beverages.

Asahi, which owns Schweppes Australia, has reportedly put $364 million on the line for the acquisition of P&N, which produces many juices and soft drinks, and Wicked energy drink. But the buyout won’t happen if the ACCC has its way, which it usually does, because it is worried the diminishing competition will mean consumers will suffer, leaving just Asahi and Coca-Cola Amatil to fight it out.

"At the heart of the ACCC's concerns is that the proposed acquisition will remove a vigorous and effective competitor in the markets for the supply of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) and cordial," ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel says.

P&N is the third largest manufacturer of both Carbonated Soft Drinks (CSDs) and cordial. P&N manufacturers CSDs under a number of brands and is the largest supplier of private label soft drinks in Australia. The ACCC thinks P&N's CSDs play an important role as low priced alternatives to Asahi and Coca-Cola Amatil options.

"The proposed acquisition would remove P&N as a vigorous and effective competitor in the CSD market and would result in Asahi and Coca-Cola Amatil being the only remaining significant competitors in the CSD market,” Samuel says.

"Following its extensive investigation, the ACCC concluded that no other CSD supplier is likely to expand sufficiently to replace the lost competitive constraint in the foreseeable future. In particular, other smaller suppliers of CSDs lack the scale, infrastructure and brands to act as a competitive constraint on Asahi post acquisition."

"Since Asahi will face little competition from other suppliers in relation to the lower-priced value CSDs, Asahi would have the ability and incentive to increase the price of P&N's branded and private label CSDs post acquisition."

"The proposed acquisition would weaken the constraint provided on the Schweppes range of CSDs, allowing Asahi to also increase the price of its Schweppes range of CSDs," Samuel says.