Makro would have been sold to a “distressed-business specialist” if it had not been bought by Booker, the Competition Commission provisionally concluded as it gave the deal the green light.

The commission, which has been investigating Booker’s £140m acquisition of Makro since November following a referral by the Office of Fair Trading, this week said the merger would not lead to a substantial lessening of competition.

In its provisional findings, it said it was unlikely that Makro, which posted losses of £18m in 2012, would have returned to profit in the short to medium term.

Bestway and Costco could have acquired some depots, but it was “most likely that Metro would have taken the quickest exit route and would have sold the entire Makro business to a distressed business specialist”, the commission said.

It added: “This would have most likely resulted in an onward piecemeal sale of the Makro stores to various parties, including wholesalers and non-wholesalers.”