UK regulator Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched Phase 1 investigation into Bellis Acquisition Company 3 Limited’s proposed purchase of Walmart’s UK business Asda Group.

The probe into the deal follows a decision by the European Commission (EC) to refer the case to the UK.

It also follows a request made by the merging parties under Article 4(4) of the EC Merger Regulation.

The CMA will investigate whether the merger could impact competition in the UK. It invited any interested party to submit their comments by 22 December.

The watchdog will have to declare its decision on 18 February.

Blackburn-based petrol station billionaires Mohsin and Zuber Issa and TDR Capital formed a takeover vehicle called Bellis Acquisition Company for the £6.8bn deal.

Issa brothers’ EG Group has nearly 6,000 petrol stations in the UK and across Europe.

BBC quoted a spokesperson for the Issa brothers and TDR Capital as saying: “As we expected, the CMA have launched a phase one investigation into the acquisition of Asda following a referral from the European Commission.

“We are looking forward to working constructively with the CMA to address any questions they may have.”

Last month, Walmart divested its Argentinian business to Latin American firm Grupo de Narváez for an undisclosed amount.