UNP Co Op 42949 Petrol Knaresborough 015

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced that it is carrying out an initial investigation into Asda’s £600m takeover of the Co-op’s forecourt business, raising the prospect that some sites have to be sold off.

Immediately after the deal – involving 132 sites and 2,300 employees – was completed in October the CMA served an enforcement order on all the parties involved.

This required them to run the businesses separately while the CMA determined whether an initial inquiry was required.

It did not give any more details about the investigation, or whether it will also involve EG Group’s forecourts which share the same owners as Asda.

However, in similar deals such as MFG’s purchase of MRH and the acquisition of Asda by EG Group’s owners, the CMA has looked at where the companies’ forecourts operate, and whether there is likely to be a lessening of competition in the fuel market in their locality.

In previous cases this has resulted in sell-off of such sites to avoid an in-depth investigation.

Location intelligence company CACI has looked into the sites owned by Asda and EG Group and found that 12 to 16 of the 132 Co-op sites could be in breach of the CMA’s parameters.

A decision on the first phase of the inquiry is expected by March 14.