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Retail

UK Regulator To Rule On Issa Brothers' £6.8bn Asda Deal By 20 April

Britain's competition regulator has set a 20 April deadline for a preliminary decision on the Issa brothers and TDR Capital's purchase of supermarket group Asda from Walmart.

In October 2020, Zuber and Mohsin Issa and private equity firm TDR Capital, agreed to buy a majority stake in Asda, Britain's third largest grocer.

In December the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an inquiry into the deal, which gave the group an enterprise value of £6.8 billion (€7.9 billion).

It initially set an 18 February deadline for a 'Phase 1' decision but then stopped the clock of its probe while it sought additional documentation.

Petrol Forecourts Deal

Its inquiry has been complicated by the Issa brothers and TDR Capital's plan to offload Asda's 322 petrol stations to their own petrol forecourt business EG Group for £750 million (€858.6 million) when the deal is completed.

The petrol forecourts deal, under which the stations will continue to be branded Asda, will be considered by the CMA as part of its review of the Asda purchase.

At the end of the Phase 1 stage, the CMA will either clear the deal, ask the parties to offer 'undertakings in lieu' or concessions to avoid a more detailed Phase 2 investigation, or refer the deal to a Phase 2 probe.

Competition lawyers expect the deal to be cleared at Phase 1 but do anticipate the combined group having to dispose of some petrol forecourts.

In 2019 Walmart's attempt to sell Asda to rival grocer Sainsbury's for £7.3 billion (€8.4 billion) was thwarted by the CMA.

Asda is due to update on fourth-quarter trading on Thursday (18 February).

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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