Asda owners avoid $9.6 billion deal probe with petrol station sale approval

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk past the UK supermarket Asda, in Leeds, Britain, October 19, 2020. REUTERS/Molly Darlington

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain’s competition regulator will not refer the 6.8 billion pound ($9.6 billion) takeover of supermarket chain Asda for an in-depth probe after accepting an offer by its new owners to sell 27 petrol stations to satisfy concerns it could lead to higher fuel prices.

Zuber and Mohsin Issa and private equity group TDR Capital completed their purchase of a majority stake in Asda from United States giant Walmart (NYSE:) in February.

In a separate deal in February, EG Group, which is also owned by the brothers and TDR, agreed to buy Asda’s 323 petrol stations for 750 million pounds.

EG Group operates about 400 petrol station sites in the UK.

In April, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) raised concerns over petrol prices and called on Asda’s buyers to address them to avoid the deal being referred for an in-depth investigation.

Last month the CMA said it was likely to accept the buyers’ disposal offer.

The Issa brothers and TDR must now select a purchaser, or purchasers, for the petrol stations, which the CMA must approve for the deal to be finally cleared.

Asda, the Issa brothers and TDR all welcomed the CMA’s decision on the disposal and its lifting of a “hold separate” order which prevented the new owners being involved in the running of the business.

“We can now push ahead with our exciting plans for Asda and look forward to working with the Asda management team to invest in the business to drive growth,” the brothers and TDR said in a joint statement.

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($1 = 0.7084 pounds)

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