The UK competition regulator is coming under mounting pressure to intervene in Tesco’s planned £3.9 billion takeover of Booker.
The Times (£) writes that a leading source close to manufacturers and a retail veteran involved in a previous big tie-up between a retailer and wholesaler joined a growing list of experts predicting that officials would scrutinise the deal (The Times £). Tesco’s One Stop convenience chain is expected to be a key area of scrutiny for competition regulators poring over the details of the merger between Booker and Britain’s biggest retailer (The Telegraph).
Lord Rose, chairman of the online grocer Ocado, said: “The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will be all over it like a rash, and they should be. The small shopkeepers are now effectively going to be supplied by Tesco.” (The Times £)
Another senior retail figure suggested Tesco could be required to guarantee savings would be passed to shoppers as a condition of the deal. (The Daily Mail)
The Sunday Times (£) looks at independent shop keepers, concluding “If Tesco takes over food wholesaler Booker, thousands of independent shopkeepers will find themselves at the mercy of their worst enemy.”
With his £3.7bn deal to buy Booker, Britain’s biggest food wholesaler, Tesco CEO Dave Lewis hopes to tighten Tesco’s grip on the British food market. He is also challenging a widespread assumption among retail executives that regulators would block any deal that extended the supermarket’s 28 per cent grocery market share. (The Financial Times £)
Departing Tesco non-exec director explained to the FT why he disagreed with deal, telling the paper he had been “very much against the deal and felt I should resign”, adding: “Tesco is in the middle of a price war that could last for years. They need to make the business simpler, not more complex.” (The Financial Times £)
The Guardian writes that the deal has go “hedge fund managerse in a funk”. “There may be another process gathering some pace this week, too – that of a few hedge fund managers desperately trying to justify why they thought it was clever to bet on a fall in Tesco’s shares, just as news of the deal prompted a 10% increase.” (The Guardian)
The Telegraph writes how the deal promises to reignite the Marmite wars – writing: “Tesco’s £3.9bn takeover of the cash-and-carry giant Booker is expected to reignite the feud between the supermarket chain and Unilever, with chief executive Dave Lewis braced for the industry’s biggest suppliers to claim the deal will create a dangerously dominant player.” (The Telegraph)
The Times’ (£) Alistair Osborne writes: “Well, they both can’t be right. Either Richard Cousins or Charles Wilson has got Tesco’s £3.9bn Booker deal badly wrong. It’s obvious, too, who’s got most to lose. And it’s not Mr Cousins, the Compass boss who quit the Tesco board in protest at its planned 205¼p-a-share Booker buy. Unlike him, Booker chief Mr Wilson now has nearly a quarter of a billion quid riding on the transaction.”
In The Telegraph, Allister Heath writes how Tesco is betting on Brexit Britain. “There are many reasons why Tesco wants to buy Booker… But all of these drivers have one feature in common: they represent a massive bet on post-Brexit Britain and the UK consumer.”
An Irish investment fund is this weekend trying to put together the financing it needs to dislodge Heineken in the race for Punch Taverns. Emerald Investment Partners, led by former Punch finance director Alan McIntosh, has yet to secure the backing for a counter bid ahead of Friday’s deadline, according to City sources. (The Times £)
Shareholders scored a major victory against fat cat pay as they forced a FTSE 100 giant to back down over plans to give a boss a £3m pay rise. Cigarette heavyweight Imperial Brands bowed to an investor rebellion by withdrawing a bumper pay rise for Alison Cooper, its chief executive. (The Daily Mail)
The FT writes that big food groups are looking to take healthy approach in battle of the snacks. With upstarts eating into market share, companies are responding to backlash against sugar. (The Financial Times £)
The Bank of England is considering a further intervention into the Co-operative Bank that could lead to the lender being wound up before the end of the year. (The Times £)
Sir Philip Green is understood to be close to a deal that will see him stump up more than £350m to fund the pensions of former BHS staff who have been left in limbo since the retail chain’s collapse last year (The Telegraph, Sky News). A new row has broken out over the collapse of BHS as former head- office staff pursue compensation over the way they were made redundant (The Times £).
Plain packaging and graphic warnings will ‘crush’ craft drinks, says gin master Sipsmith’s Jared Brown. Campaigners have slammed ‘sanctimonious’ health experts after call for tobacco-style warnings. (The Guardian)
Over a third of UK firms are planning to invest more in selling abroad over the next five years, despite uncertainties over Brexit. That is according to a survey of mostly small to medium-sized firms (SMEs) by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which found Europe remained the market for targeted investment. (Sky News)