Thursday, 23 November, 2017

Tesco Booker deal gets provisional green light from CMA

TESCO  BOOKER GETTYTesco's £3.7 billion takeover of Booker has been provisionally cleared
Preston Stone | 14 November, 2017, 16:37

Shares in Tesco (LON:TSCO) have jumped almost five percent in London this morning, as Britain's competition watchdog cleared provisionally the grocer's tie-up with wholesaler Booker Group (LON:BOK).

The CMA pointed out that Tesco did not supply the catering sector, which makes up 30 per cent of Booker's sales.

The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority provisionally cleared a merger between Great Britain's number one grocer Tesco, and wholesaler Booker, noting that the level of competition in their respective markets is sufficient to counterbalance any rise in prices or reduction in service levels.

The CMA found that Tesco as a retailer and Booker as a wholesaler, supplying to caterers, independent and symbol group retailers, did not compete head-to-head in most of their activities.

Shares in Tesco and Booker were up 4.8 percent and 5.1 percent respectively at 0905 GMT.

It also owns convenience store chains Budgens, Londis and Premier (BSE: 500540.BO - news), as well as trade-facing Makro and Booker Wholesale.

It had raised worries that there could be a potential for Booker to reduce the wholesale services or terms it offers the stores it now supplies, in order to drive customers to their local Tesco.

They argued that Booker could raise prices to the shops it supplies.

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It also found that the deal would allow Booker to negotiate better terms with its suppliers for some of its groceries but that it...

Tesco expects to complete the merger in early 2018.

The CMA said the competitive landscape looked generally rosy because Booker had less than a 20% share of the United Kingdom grocery wholesaling market.

The CMA began its investigation in May and launched an in-depth probe in July after Tesco and Booker asked for the inquiry to be fast-tracked.

This week, Nisa members approved the takeover from The Co-op. Following the provisional decision, the CMA is now inviting further comment and evidence before coming to a final view.

Tesco welcomed the provisional findings, saying it looked forward to "creating the UK's leading food business".

As of 09:28 GMT, Tesco's share price had added 4.55 percent to 185.05p, outperforming the broader United Kingdom market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index now standing 0.12 percent higher at 7,423.98 points.

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