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Morrisons faces possible CMA petrol probe after CD&R takeover

·1-min read
Morrisons’ £7bn takeover by CD&R is to face scrutiny by competition regulators (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)
Morrisons’ £7bn takeover by CD&R is to face scrutiny by competition regulators (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

The competition watchdog has ordered Morrisons to stay operationally independent while it considers whether to launch an investigation into the supermarket’s recent £7 billion private equity takeover.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published an initial enforcement notice this morning, which prohibits Morrisons buyer Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) from integrating the supermarket chain with its businesses. The order does not amount to a full investigation but could precede one. The CMA said an initial enforcement order was standard practice in a deal of this size.

The order specifically covers MFG, the petrol station business also owned by CD&R. CD&R had been expected to combine parts of the two businesses, offering Morrisons groceries at MFG forecourts.

Morrisons already has over 300 petrol forecourts across the UK. A tie-up with MFG , which has 900 filling stations in the UK, could prompt concerns with the regulator. There are roughly 8,000 petrol stations across the UK.

If the CMA probe concludes that the deal limits competition, the watchdog could force the supermarket to sell-off assets. Earlier this year the CMA forced petrol station entrepreneurs the Issa Brothers to sell off 27 of forecourts before it cleared their takeover of rival supermarket chain Asda.

The CMA probe comes days after Morrisons delisted from the stock market following a heated private equity battle for the business. CD&R fought off competition from a consortium led by Fortress Investments, winning an auction for the business at the start of the month.

A spokesperson for CD&R said: “As expected, the CMA has issued an Initial Enforcement Order and CD&R looks forward to working constructively with the CMA to address any questions they may have.”

Morrisons has been contacted for comment.

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