Britain's competition regulator has proposed to accept an offer from supermarket group Morrisons' new private equity owner, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), to sell 87 petrol stations to address concerns over higher fuel prices, it said on Tuesday.
CD&R completed its £7 billion (€8.4 billion) purchase of Morrisons, Britain's fourth biggest grocer, last October.
However, in March the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) told CD&R that if it did not address its concerns that the deal could lead to higher fuel prices in 121 local areas across the United Kingdom it would face an in-depth investigation into the deal.
Petrol Station Sale
CD&R is the owner of the Motor Fuel Group (MFG), which is the United Kingdom's largest independent operator of petrol stations, with 921 to Morrisons' 339.
To address the CMA's concerns, CD&R offered to divest 87 of MFG's petrol stations.
"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.
If the CMA concludes that the competition issues have been addressed following a consultation on CD&R’s offer, the deal will be cleared.
That will be a relief to CD&R as Morrisons has had to continue operating as a separate business while the CMA conducts its investigations.
Last month, Morrisons warned that its sales and core profit for the year could be hit by the crisis in Ukraine and rising inflation unless conditions improve.