However, in January, the UK’s competition watchdog opened an investigation into the move as it raised concerns that the deal could lead to higher petrol prices for some customers. CD&R also owns Motor Fuel Group (MFG), the country’s largest independent petrol station operator, which runs 921 forecourts across the country.
Meanwhile, Morrisons runs 339 petrol stations across England, Scotland and Wales. The Competition and Market Authority (CMA) highlighted potential competition concerns in 121 local areas across England, Scotland and Wales.
In order to address these concerns, CD&R said it will sell off 87 of its MFG-run petrol stations to a CMA-approved buyer. The regulator said it is consulting over the proposals but is “minded to accept” the offer.
It added that this appears “to be suitable to restore the loss of competition brought about by the deal across each of the 121 local areas in which the concerns were identified”. The CMA added that while the number of sites proposed for sale is lower than the number of areas previously highlighted, the sale of some petrol stations will address concerns in multiple areas.
Colin Rafferty, senior director of mergers at the CMA, said: “The sale of these petrol stations will preserve competition and prevent motorists from losing out due to this deal, which is particularly important when prices have recently hit record highs. If we conclude that the competition issues have been addressed following a consultation on CD&R’s offer, the deal will be cleared.”