UK competition watchdog provisionally clears £6.8bn Asda deal

Buyers must offer concessions on petrol stations before transaction can be approved

The Competition and Markets Authority said the Asda deal raised ‘local competition issues’ in 36 areas of the UK. File photograph: Sopa Images/LightRocket via Getty

The Competition and Markets Authority said the Asda deal raised ‘local competition issues’ in 36 areas of the UK. File photograph: Sopa Images/LightRocket via Getty

 

The UK’s competition watchdog has provisionally cleared the £6.8 billion (€7.9 billion) acquisition of Asda by TDR Capital and the Issa brothers, as long as the buyers offer concessions on a possible loss of competition in the petrol market.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the deal raised “local competition issues” in 36 areas of the UK.

It cited geographic overlap in petrol stations held by Asda and EG Group, which is also owned by the Issas and TDR.

“We’re concerned the merger could lead to higher prices for motorists in certain parts of the UK,” said Joel Bamford, senior director of mergers at the CMA.

“However, if the companies can provide a clear-cut solution to address our concerns, we won’t carry out an in-depth phase two investigation,” Bamford added.

EG Group, which was built up over two decades by Blackburn-based brothers Zuber and Mohsin Issa and has 395 filling stations in the UK, has five working days to offer remedies to address the competition concerns.

It is likely to offer to sell forecourts in the affected areas rather than face the prospect of a phase two investigation that could last several months and delay any restructuring of Asda. – The Financial Times