Asda set to appease competition concerns over £600m takeover of petrol stations
Britain’s competition watchdog said it is considering accepting Asda’s plans to appease concerns after warning earlier this month the deal could result in “higher prices or less choice” for motorists and shoppers across 13 sites. Asda and its owners, the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity backers TDR Capital, put forward proposals last week that included selling 13 petrol stations with adjoining grocery stores from the 132-strong portfolio of forecourts it snapped up last autumn.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said there are “reasonable grounds for believing that the undertakings offered… or a modified version of them, might be accepted”. It now has until May 30 to consider the offer and make a final decision. The CMA launched its investigation into the acquisition in January. It said in mid-March the takeover “raises competition concerns” in 13 locations across the UK.
The supermarket chain secured the takeover in October as part of plans to grow its petrol station business.
The deal is seeing 2,300 workers move from the Co-op to the supermarket group.
The new focus on forecourts and convenience stores comes after Asda’s £6.8bn takeover by the Issa brothers and TDR Capital, who also own the EG Group forecourt giant.
In August, the Co-op first revealed plans to sell its 132 petrol stations and attached convenience stores in a bid to bolster its finances.
The Co-op said proceeds from the sale will be reinvested in its core convenience shops, pricing, stores operations and reducing its debt burden.