Competition Commission kicks off Booker/Makro probe

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The Competition Commission is calling for responses to its investigation into Booker’s acquisition of Makro.

The £140m deal was referred to the CC by the Office of Fair Trading last month after the OFT ruled Booker’s acquisition of the loss-making cash & carry could lead to a “substantial lessening of competition”.

The CC, which has until April to investigate the deal, published an Issues Statement this morning, in which it said its “initial view” was that “there are significant overlaps in the parties’ supply… and that there are aspects of competition that need to be considered at both the local and national levels”.

“For example, on the basis of the information reviewed so far, we note that the parties’ activities overlap in 29 of the 30 local areas where Makro has a store,” the statement added.

It also said that it would consider whether Makro “would have remained as a viable independent business; whether it or some of its UK assets would have been acquired; or whether it would have exited the market”.

Two ‘theories of harm’ would also be examined – whether the merger could lead to higher prices and a lower quality of service at a national level, and a local level.

Any interested parties have until 7 January to respond to the Issues Statement.

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