Thailand’s competition regulator has given the nod for British retail giant Tesco to sell its supermarket businesses to the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, despite monopoly concerns.
The $10.6-billion sale to Thailand’s biggest conglomerate was first flagged in March and also covers Tesco’s operations in Malaysia.
“The majority of commissioners agreed that the merger of those businesses [could create] market dominance…but it’s not a monopoly,” Thailand’s Office of Trade Competition Commission said in a statement on Friday, November 6.
The regulator said CP Group is not allowed to pursue other retail merger deals during the next 3 years.
Thai Retailers and Wholesalers Association president Somchai Pornrattanacharoen, who was on the regulator’s vetting committee, last month publicly expressed concerns that the deal would grant CP Group a monopoly, according to local media.
It is a boomerang sale of sorts – Tesco has nearly 2,000 grocery stores across Thailand which it bought from CP Group during the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998.
The Chearavanont family and its patriarch Dhanin, who control CP Group, are worth an estimated $27.3 billion and top Thailand’s list of 27 billionaires, according to Forbes.
Tesco said in a statement that it was waiting for CP Group to receive a formal regulatory approval notice and that it will make a further announcement when appropriate.
CP Group, which has interests spanning food, telecommunications, and high-speed rail, has not commented on the regulator’s decision. – Rappler.com