Tesco takeover of Booker gets all clear from independent authority

15 November, 2017, 01:10 | Author: Terri Saunders
  • Tesco and Booker merger

One of the major concerns for independent retailers previously highlighted by the regulator were fears that Tesco would increase Booker's wholesale prices to independent retailers in order to drive sales in its Tesco Express and One Stop stores. It examined evidence from Tesco and Booker, as well as evidence from more than 65 wholesalers, suppliers and retail chains and a survey of hundreds of retailers.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally cleared the merger between Tesco and wholesale giant Booker. This might increase competition in the wholesale market, as well as reducing prices for shoppers.

The Competition and Markets Authority said its in-depth investigation in to the proposed merger had raised no competition concerns.

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.

"My only concern would be for local suppliers that supply Bookers, will Tesco dictate what price they are willing to pay for their goods and squeeze their margins even more", says Patel.

It said they argued that Booker could raise prices to the shops it supplies.

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The CMA found that it was likely Booker would be able to negotiate better terms from a number of its suppliers for some of its groceries, and that it was likely to pass on some of the benefits of these savings to the shops that it supplies.

The CMA gave provisional clearance to the deal, finding that head-to-head competition in areas such as supplying the catering sector was now limited. The regulator's final decision will then be published by December 26 at the latest.

The then Nisa chief executive Nick Read reportedly said in April there would be "an enormous amount of pain" from the Tesco-Booker deal, telling The Daily Telegraph the larger player emerging from the transaction could hit his business.

Bruno Monteyne, an analyst for investment bank Sanford Bernstein covering Europe's food retail sector, said: "The argument that Tesco and Booker don't compete directly in the convenience market won".

He said: "With a higher shareholder hurdle and the Tesco share price below the level of when the bid was made - around £2 - Booker shareholders may argue for a higher share price".

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