The buyers of Morrisons have agreed to sell a number of petrol stations to accelerate a £7billion takeover of the UK’s fourth biggest supermarket.
Clayton, Dubilier and Rice, which also owns forecourt operator Motor Fuel Group (MFG), won over control of the Big Four grocer in October.
However, watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation because MFG owns 921 petrol stations while Morrisons has 339.
The regulator found that the takeover could increase prices in 121 locations across the UK where they both operate.
It said the findings were particularly important with petrol prices near record highs and gave CD&R a week to propose a way to address its concerns.
The watchdog said CD&R has offered to sell some of its petrol stations to force through the deal.
CD&R won an auction for Morrisons in October after a lengthy battle in which it tipped US private equity rival Fortress by 1p per share.
MFG is the UK’s biggest independent forecourt operator with petrol stations across brands such as Texaco, BP and Shell.
CD&R did not say how many forecourts it has offered to sell, but the CMA said the deal “might be accepted” under the proposals.
The Competition and Markets Authority previously warned the takeover deal could lead to higher petrol prices in more than 100 locations.
In January, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into the supermarket takeover which concluded on price rise concerns.
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CD&R is the biggest independent operator of petrol stations in the UK.
MFG operates 921 petrol stations across England, Scotland and Wales under a number of different brands, while Morrisons runs 339 petrol stations at its supermarkets.
The regulator said it had concerns in areas where MFG and Morrisons both have forecourts and would face “limited competition” from other players following the merger.
It said “the deal could lead to an increase in prices” due to the lack of competition.
The warning comes after a recent surge in the price of petrol and diesel and a 5p cut on fuel duty as announced by the Chancellor last month.
Colin Raftery, senior director of mergers at the CMA, said: “Prices for petrol and diesel have recently hit record highs, which makes it even more important that we don’t allow a lack of competition at the pump to make the situation worse.
“We’re concerned that this deal could lead to higher prices for motorists in some parts of the country.
“But if CD&R and Morrisons are able to address these concerns, then we won’t need to move on to an in-depth investigation of the merger.”
Supermarket rival Asda agreed to sell 27 petrol stations last year in order to help its £6.8billion takeover pass following concerns from the competition regulator.
The chain is owned by E&G Group owners the Issa Brothers.
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