December 20, 2017 / 7:14 AM / 9 months ago

Tesco wins UK regulator's final approval for Booker takeover ​

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s competition regulator on Wednesday gave final clearance to Tesco’s 3.7 billion pound ($4.95 billion)takeover of wholesaler Booker, tightening the grip of the country’s largest retailer on its food market.

FILE PHOTO: Shopping trolleys are seen at a Tesco Express in southwest London September 22, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had concluded the deal, announced in January, does not raise competition concerns.

The CMA had provisionally cleared the transaction in November, having formally opened its investigation in May.

That unconditional approval surprised analysts and disappointed wholesale and retail rivals who had expected the regulator would insist on some store divestments or restrictions on operations from Tesco.

The CMA said a group of independent panel members had examined all submissions received since its provisional findings before coming to the final view.

“We have carefully listened to feedback from retailers and wholesalers who operate in what are highly competitive UK retail and wholesale sectors,” said Simon Polito, chair of the inquiry group.

“Retailers have told us that they shop around for the best prices and service from their wholesaler, and we are confident that this will continue after Tesco buys Booker.”

Tesco welcomed the decision. It anticipates Tesco and Booker shareholder meetings towards the end of February next year to vote on the deal and completion the following month.

For each Booker share, Tesco is offering 0.861 new Tesco shares and 42.6 pence in cash.

Tesco shares closed Tuesday at 206 pence, while Booker’s closed at 225.7 pence.

Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle

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