Motor Fuel Group must address Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) concerns over its takeover of rival MRH to avoid an in-depth investigation.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that competition provided by other major petrol retailers and supermarkets will ensure that the merger would not result in higher prices for motorists across the country as a whole.
However, after conducting an initial (Phase 1) investigation into the takeover, the CMA has identified concerns at 29 locations in the UK where MFG and MRH are close competitors, and where the takeover could result in prices rising for local motorists.
MFG now has until 7 September to address the CMA’s competition concerns. If it is unable to do so, the merger will be referred for an in-depth (Phase 2) investigation.
William Bannister, MFG’s chief executive officer, said: “The CMA’s findings announced today were in line with the expectations of the MFG board. MFG has co-operated closely with the CMA to assist in their analysis and the fact that concerns have only been identified at 29 locations means that action can be taken quickly to remedy these anti-competitive areas of concern.
“Finally, we now look forward with renewed confidence to develop our business as the UK’s largest independent forecourt operator.”
MRH found itself in a similar situation two and a half years ago. After buying 78 Esso sites the CMA warned MRH about competition concerns in Brighton and Cambridge. MRH resolved the problem by agreeing to sell sites causing concern.
In February 2015 MFG agreed to sell a site in Hythe after the CMA raised concerns about it owning both filling stations in the town after it bought Murco’s retail business.