No need for antitrust notification in Robinsons-Ministop deal — PCC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25) — The Gokongwei Group does not need to notify the antitrust watchdog of its complete takeover of the Ministop franchise in the Philippines as it already controls the majority stake in the convenience store chain.

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said it was aware of the Ministop buyout reports, but given Robinsons Supermarket Corp.'s 60% stake in Robinsons Convenience Stores Inc. (RCSI)—the local franchisee of Ministop—the group is "no longer required to notify the proposed acquisition to the antitrust commission".

"Based on PCC’s merger rules, the Commission acknowledges that Robinsons’ current majority stake in Ministop already affords them control," the PCC said in a statement Tuesday.

The competition watchdog said merger reviews are focused on "the effects and changes of market behavior in the hands of new owners or stakeholders."

"This transaction may result in a change in ownership of a significant portion of equity but it is not likely to have an effect on the economic behavior of the target firm," the PCC said.

Parent company Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc. confirmed to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday the plan to acquire Ministop Japan's 40% stake in RCSI in February.

READ: Robinsons Retail to fully own Ministop Philippines

Operations of Ministop branches will continue "until they are repurposed and appropriately rebranded," the group said in a disclosure.

Popular items such as Uncle John's Fried Chicken and Kariman will still be offered to consumers, the company added.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Robinsons Retail Investor Relations Officer Gina Roa-Dipaling said they are eyeing to start the rebranding and repurposing process in March.

Specifically on repurposing, the company is planning to convert some stores into a drugstore, some into a mini mart store, and some would remain as convenience stores.

Roa-Dipaling said they target to complete rebranding of all 460 stores by end of Dec. 2022. Some may be closed down especially those that can be considered as non-performing, she added.

She also said the company is interested in venturing into sports and furniture in the future.