Merger watchdog warns Asda billionaires against gas prices Business

The competition watchdog has warned that the £ 6.8 billion buyout of Asda by billionaire brothers Issa “could push up prices for motorists” in some areas.

The Competition and Markets Authority said the investigations had raised “local competition concerns over the supply of road fuel in 36 areas of the UK”.

EG Group, the forecourt giant owned by Mohsin and Zuber Issa, operates 395 service stations, while Asda has 323 sites.

Joel Bamford of the CMA said: “Our job is to protect consumers by ensuring that there is always strong competition between service stations, which leads to lower prices at the pump.

“These are two key players in the market, and it’s important that we thoroughly analyze the transaction to make sure people don’t end up paying more than the odds.

“Right now we are concerned that the merger could push up prices for motorists in parts of the UK.

“However, if companies can provide a clear solution to address our concerns, we will not conduct a Phase 2 in-depth investigation.”

The CMA approval would finally allow Walmart to exit the UK grocery market after more than two decades.

The review comes two years after regulators blocked Walmart’s previous attempt to sell Asda’s business to Sainsbury’s, saying the combination would lead to higher prices and less choice for buyers.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has owned Asda since 1999 and has been trying to sell the chain for at least four years to focus on the United States, where it makes three-quarters of its sales.

Asda has been more exposed to the threat from discounters Aldi and Lidl than Tesco and Sainsbury’s because its prices are generally lower.

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This notice was published: 2021-04-20 10:50:14