Morrisons’ private equity takeover by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) is expected to be finalised in early June as the group offers to sell 87 petrol stations to pave the way for the £7bn takeover deal.
The move means that the UK’s competition regulator is set to approve the acquisition in the coming weeks.
CD&R, which also owns forecourt operator Motor Fuel Group (MFG), took control of the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket chain in October last year. However, it has been forced to run the business at arm’s length as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating the retail fuel market.
Morrisons operates 339 petrol stations across England, Scotland and Wales, while MFG has 921 sites.
The CMA recently identified 121 locations where competition could be reduced following the takeover. As a result, CD&R has offered to sell 87 MFG forecourts to other operators to redress the competition balance.
The news comes as petrol and diesel prices have reached a record high.
“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,” said Colin Raftery, senior director of mergers at the CMA.
The proposals will now go out to consultation, closing on 17 May and with a decision expected by 9 June.
“If we conclude that the competition issues have been addressed following a consultation on CD&R’s offer, the deal will be cleared,” Raftery said.
If the CMA does not then believe the issues have been addressed, it will move to a phase 2 inquiry.