Greene King faces official sanction from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) over its failure to sell a package of pubs acquired in 2004.

The 2,500-strong pub company is in breach of an agreement with the OFT made after the purchase of the 432-strong Laurel neighbourhood estate.

At the time of the deal, the OFT said Greene King would have to sell 13 pubs in areas where it now had a stranglehold to avoid referral to the Competition Committee.

However, despite several extensions, the pub company has broken four deadlines – the most recent on 22 June - and still has one offending pub left in Oxfordshire.

In the next few days the OFT will formally announce Greene King must sell the site within three months, or face a High Court appearance, which could result in the seizure of the property by the courts.

An OFT spokeswoman confirmed it would be the first time it had ever had to issue an enforcement order since the Enterprise Act came into force in June 2003.

The OFT is currently soliciting any representations in regards to Greene King’s takeover of Nottingham’s Hardys and Hansons, which is standard procedure.

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By Chris Druce

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