// Regulators launch an investigation into the £7billion private equity takeover of Morrisons.
// CD&R already owns 920 petrol stations in the UK through its Motor Fuel Group business it bought in 2015.
The Competition and Markets Authority has launched a probe into the acquisition of the Morrisons supermarket chain by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
The £7 billion deal, which was completed in October, saw Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Holdings (CD&R) remove Morrisons from the London Stock Exchange.
The CMA will be looking into whether the acquisition will result in higher fuel prices on petrol forecourts around the UK.
US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice owns around 900 UK petrol stations as part of its Motor Fuel company whilst Morrisons has around 335.
It is feared that merging the two businesses will create a group controlling more than 1,200 of the country’s 8,000 petrol stations –reducing competition and hitting drivers in the pocket.
In statement, the CMA said it will examine whether the deal will “result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.”
An industry source said the takeover hands CD&R a ‘dangerously high’ number of forecourts in the UK.
The source added that in some instances it would leave the group in control of the only petrol stations in an area, giving it the power to control prices.
While the CMA could block the merger completely, it is said the watchdog will more likely order the duo to sell off some of their forecourts – similar to Asda’s takeover.
Asda and new owners the Issa brothers were told to sell 27 petrol stations to get the green light.