Tesco's Booker mega-merger: Hermes Fund Managers is the latest major investor group to attack the deal

Emma Haslett
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Lawyers have suggested Tesco may need to ditch its Express stores for the deal with Booker to be accepted. (Source: Getty)

Another day and another major investment group has comes against the £3.7bn merger between Tesco and Booker, one of its largest suppliers, after the boss of Hermes Fund Managers warned it could give the pair "too much power" over smaller stores.

Speaking to The Times, Saker Nusseibeh, chief executive of Hermes, said the deal could put too much pressure on the 8,000 corner stores the pair will have influence over once the deal goes through (Booker owns the Londis and Budgens brands).

"Too much power in the hands of any one supplier is never a good thing," he said. "In the long term there could be a backlash against [Tesco]."

Read more: Tesco may need to sell off stores to win Booker deal approval

It's worth pointing out that Hermes doesn't own any shares in either Tesco or Booker - but it does act as a consultant for other investment groups. Nusseibeh said he hopes to raise the issue with Tesco.

Hermes isn't the first investment group to raise eyebrows at the deal: last week two of Tesco's biggest shareholders, Schroders and Artisan Partners, wrote to its chairman asking him to retract the offer, saying acquisitions "destroy value for acquiring shareholders".

And lawyers have suggested for the deal to be approved by the Competition and Markets Authority, Tesco may need to flog its Tesco Express stores.

Meanwhile, Booker published interim figures showing total sales rose 6.7 per cent to £5.3bn in the year to 24 March, although sales to retailers fell 0.6 per cent, pushed down by strict new rules on tobacco sales.

At the time chief executive Charles Wilson said he was "excited" about the Tesco deal.

"We are excited about the benefits the enlarged group will bring to consumers, our customers, suppliers, colleagues and shareholders. The merger is going through the competition process. Meanwhile it is business as usual as we continue to improve choice, prices and service for our retail, catering and small business customers."

Read more: Why Tesco could be better off leaving Booker on the shelf

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