The UK’s competition watchdog has said it is set to give a green light to the takeover of Morrisons by Clayton, Dubilier and Rice (CD&R) in early June after the group offered to sell 87 petrol stations.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been probing CD&R’s £7bn takeover of the supermarket and previously raised competition concerns.
The New York private equity firm also owns petrol station giant Motor Fuel Group (MFG), causing the watchdog to warn that its takeover of Morrisons could lead to petrol prices rising in some 121 locations across the UK.
CD&R beat off competition from a consortium led by Fortress to take over Morrisons in October last year but has been forced to run the business at arm’s length pending an investigation.
Morrisons operates 339 petrol stations across England, Scotland and Wales, while MFG, the largest independent operator of petrol stations in the UK, has an estate of 921 sites.
The CMA said it was ready to accept an offer from CD&R to sell 87 petrol stations.
This year, the CMA identified 121 areas where competition could be reduced following the takeover, although CD&R has proposed to sell a lower number of stations than the number of areas highlighted.
The watchdog is now consulting on the proposals for the sale of the petrol stations, a process known as undertakings.
Colin Raftery, senior director of mergers, at the CMA, said: “The sale of these petrol stations will preserve competition and prevent motorists from losing out due to this deal, which is particularly important when prices have recently hit record highs.
“If we conclude that the competition issues have been addressed following a consultation on CD&R’s offer, the deal will be cleared.”