Friday 8 April 2022

Owner Of Morrisons Offers To Sell Petrol Stations To Ease Competition Concerns

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) has offered to sell several of its petrol stations to gain final clearance for its acquisition of Morrisons. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a Phase 1 investigation into the £7bn private equity deal back in January.

Whilst the takeover has already been completed, the regulator had ordered all parties to remain separate and hold off on integration plans until its probe had taken place.

Concerns centred around CD&R also owning the Motor Fuel Group (MFG), the largest independent operator of petrol stations in the UK with 921 sites under brands such as Esso, BP, Shell, Texaco, Jet and Murco. Meanwhile, Morrisons operates 339 petrol stations, the vast majority of which are located at its supermarkets across the country.

The CMA announced last month that it found the deal raises competition concerns in relation to the supply of petrol and diesel in 121 local areas across England, Scotland and Wales. These are all areas in which MFG and Morrisons both have petrol forecourts and would face only limited competition after the merger, meaning that the deal could lead to an increase in prices.

Facing the prospect of a full Phase 2 investigation, it was announced yesterday that CD&R has now offered to divest a number of the petrol stations to gain approval for the takeover.

While the competition watchdog did not disclose how many sites the private equity firm was offering to sell, it said: “There are reasonable grounds for believing that the undertakings offered by CD&R, or a modified version of them, might be accepted by the CMA”.

Similar concerns were raised when the Issa brothers bought Asda due to their ownership of the EG forecourt empire. The CMA eventually forced them to sell 27 petrol stations to get the Asda deal across the line.

Recent reports have suggested that CD&R wants to sell off the entire MFG business via a £5bn auction, with another private equity firm the likely buyer.

NamNews Implications:
  • A no-brainer decision (given the stakes involved…)
  • Therefore proactive suppliers (and retail rivals) will have already factored this outcome into their trade strategies…
  • …hopefully.
  • Meanwhile, a what-if re CD&R selling off the entire MFG business via a £5bn auction is worth conducting.
  • NamNews subscribers See 'Moving from Managing a Traditionally Owned to a PE Owned Mult'
#Petrol #Competition #PrivateEquityOwnership

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