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Billionaire Issa brothers snap up German petrol chain for £440m

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The logo of Austrian oil and gas group OMV is seen at a petrol station behind a road sign in Munich May 8, 2009. OMV reported a worse-than-expected 56 percent fall in clean operation earnings in the fourth quarter as the low oil price hit results. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler (AUSTRIA BUSINESS ENERGY)
OMV had put the 285 stations up for sale as part of a divestment plan to raise €2bn to fund a deal making it the majority owner of plastics maker Borealis. Photo: REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler

EG Group, the petrol retailing giant led by billionaire Issa brothers, has agreed to purchase Austrian oil and gas company OMV’s network of petrol stations in Germany for €485m (£440m, $589m).

OMV had put the 285 stations up for sale as part of a divestment plan to raise €2bn to fund a deal making it the majority owner of plastics maker Borealis.

Rainer Seele, chief executive of OMV said the transaction will reduce the company’s debt “by approximately half a billion euros at the time of closing.”

The move will also extend the presence of Moshin and Zuber Issa’s business in Germany. EG Group, formerly known as Euro Garages, already runs 6,000 filling stations across Europe, the US and Australia.

The company also operates sites in Germany under the Esso fuel brand and has partnerships with Starbucks (SBUX) and KFC.

The news comes after the billionaire brothers landed a £6.8bn deal backed by private equity company TDR Capital to buy supermarket chain Asda from US owner Walmart (WMT) in October.

The acquisition means the grocer will return to majority UK ownership for the first time in two decades. The Lancashire-based brothers, who started their business 20 years ago, were both made CBEs on the back of the news.

READ MORE: UK plans to ban new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030

The deal is currently being examined by competition authorities and is subject to approval by regulators. The Competition Markets Authority (CMA) said it has formally launched its so-called phase one probe after the European Commission referred the deal to the UK.

It will now look at whether the acquisition will lead to a “substantial lessening of competition” in the UK.

The CMA has until 18 February to reach a decision on the first stage of its investigation and has set a deadline of 22 December for interested parties to comment.

It is not expected to encounter the same troubles as Sainsbury’s ill-fated attempt to buy out Asda in a proposed merger, which was blocked by the CMA last year.

A fortnight ago, the brothers also launched a takeover offer for troubled coffee chain Caffe Nero, proposing to buy the company from Gerry Ford, founder and controlling shareholder.

Under the proposal, Caffe Nero's landlords would have been paid in full for the rent arrears owed to them as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, however, the coffee house rejected the bid.

Caffe Nero said it would continue with a separate restructuring process.

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