Motor Fuel Group (MFG) is confident its £1.2bn takeover of MRH will get the green light following the Competition & Markets Authority’s (CMA) Phase 1 pronouncement on Friday.
The CMA said its initial investigation had identified “concerns” at 29 locations in the UK where MFG and MRH are close competitors. It warned the takeover could result in prices rising for local motorists at those sites.
It found, however, that competition from other major petrol retailers and supermarkets would ensure the tie-up would not lead to higher prices for motorists across the country as a whole.
The CMA gave MFG until this Friday to address the local competition concerns or risk referral for an in-depth investigation.
A CMA spokesman said the details of the 29 sites in questions were not yet publicly available.
“The CMA’s findings were in line with the expectations of the MFG board,” said MFG chief executive William Bannister. “MFG has cooperated closely with the CMA to assist in its analysis and the fact that concerns have only been identified at 29 locations means that action can be taken quickly to remedy these anti-competitive areas of concern.”
He said the group looked forward “with renewed confidence” to develop its business as the UK’s largest independent forecourt operator.
The CMA launched a Phase 1 inquiry earlier this summer which focused on whether the merger could lead to “a substantial lessening of competition” within any UK markets offering goods or services.
The combined group would operate more than 900 mainly company-owned, franchisee-operated sites and manage third-party fuel, convenience and foodservice brands.
MFG, owned by funds managed by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, is the UK’s second largest independent forecourt operator with nearly 440 stations operating under the BP, Shell, Esso, Texaco, Jet and Murco fuel brands. Its retail offerings include Subway and Costa.
MRH is the UK’s leading independent forecourt operator with more than 490 sites. It has partnerships with BP, Shell and Esso. Its retail offerings include Spar, Budgens, Costa, Subway, Greggs and its own Hursts convenience format.