Asda merger prompts fresh GMB calls to extend CMA powers
Merger raises the spectre of a private equity black hole on the UK high street, says GMB Union
24 January 2023
Asda merger talks which could see the company combine its petrol and supermarket divisions have prompted fresh calls from the GMB Union to expand the powers of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The billionaire owners of Issa brothers are exploring a merger of the supermarket and their UK petrol forecourts business in a blockbuster deal that would create a retail giant worth between 11 billion and 13 billion pounds, according to a report in the London-based The Times*.
The combination would create a group with 581 supermarkets, 700 petrol forecourts and more than 100 convenience stores in a bid to refinance the current debt.
Brothers Zuber and Mohsin Issa and London-based private equity group TDR Capital have owned EG Group together since 2016. They later bought Asda.
According to the newspaper, talks over merging the two businesses come ahead of a refinancing of EG Group, which has 7 billion pounds of debt due in 2025.
“This proposed merger raises the spectre of a private equity black hole on the UK high street,” said Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer.
“More and more of our essential household goods – from food to fuel – are controlled by unaccountable private equity backers.
“This merger isn’t in the interests of the 200,000 impacted workers, or the UK economy, or even consumes,” Houghton continued. “It simply suits the debt refinancing arrangements of a private equity firm and their business partners.
“GMB stands on the side of hard-working families in calling for the role of the CMA to be expanded – giving greater regulatory oversight in relation to private equity buyouts and ensuring greater protection of both consumers and workers.”