Regulator signals green light for £6.8bn Asda takeover

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gave a strong hint on Wednesday it is likely to accept an offer from the new majority owners of Leeds-based Asda to sell 27 petrol stations to satisfy its concerns that the takeover could lead to higher fuel prices.

Blackburn-based billionaires the Issa brothers and TDR Capital completed the acquisition of a majority ownership stake in Asda from Walmart Inc. in February in a £6.8 billion deal.

The CMA said on Wednesday: “Mr Zuber Issa, Mr Mohsin Issa and TDR Capital LLP jointly offered undertakings to the CMA, which involve divesting 27 EG Group Limited petrol filling stations.

“The CMA considers that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the undertakings offered jointly by Mr Zuber Issa, Mr Mohsin Issa and TDR Capital LLP, or a modified version of them, might be accepted by the CMA under the Enterprise Act 2002.”

The Issa brothers and TDR Capital said: “Over the course of the past 10 days, we have been working constructively with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to offer remedies to address the CMA’s competition concerns.

“Today, we are pleased to confirm that the CMA has indicated it has reasonable grounds to believe the proposed remedies are acceptable, enabling us to arrive at a conclusive outcome for the acquisition of Asda in Phase 1.”

The Asda buyers added: “As is usual in cases such as these, the CMA now has a period of 40 days to work through the detail of the proposed divestitures and therefore we are restricted in the level of information we are able to provide on specific sites.

“However, we have been comforted by the significant interest we have already received from potential buyers during this process, demonstrating the strong growth potential of our forecourts and the liquidity in the market.

“Over the coming months, we are confident that we will be able to agree a sale to suitable operators to take over all identified sites, and we will share more information in due course.”