The mergers watchdog has warned that the £6.8bn takeover of Asda by the billionaire Issa brothers could push prices up at the pump and demanded extra assurances to prevent a full-blown investigation. 

The Competition and Markets Authority’s probe identified 36 areas across the UK where the tie-up could lead to higher prices for motorists. 

EG Group, the forecourt giant owned by Mohsin and Zuber Issa, operates 395 petrol stations, while Asda owns 323 sites. The brothers are to merge Asda’s sites with their existing forecourt empire in a separate £750m deal as part of their takeover of the supermarket.

The CMA only named one Asda superstore in Aberdeen as problematic.

Other areas where the two firms overlap, according to data from Altus, include: Birmingham, with two EG sites and six Asda sites; Leeds, with four EG sites and five Asda sites; Liverpool, with three EG sites and six Asda sites; and Manchester, with seven EG sites and eight Asda sites. 

Competition lawyers estimated that the new owners of the supermarket chain would have to sell between 40 and 50 sites to get the green light from the regulator. 

Industry veteran Gerald Ronson, who pioneered self-service petrol stations in the 1960s, expressed an interest in buying some of the sites to add to his existing 265 locations. 

“We’re in the market to buy the right sites. If they have sites that they want to sell we would be pleased to have a look at them. We don’t have any debt and we have substantial cash. We’re buyers,” he said. 

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