The US private equity giant that failed in a £7bn bid for Morrisons is now setting its sights on petrol forecourts operator Motor Fuel Group (MFG).

Fortress Investment Group, which already owns Majestic Wine in the UK, is lining up a £5bn bid for the business, according to Sky News. 

Motor Fuel Group electric vehicle charging points

MFG is one of the largest independent operators of petrol forecourts, following a string of acquisitions

MFG is currently owned by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), the private equity firm that pipped Fortress to the Morrisons deal following a dramatic auction in October. 

Fortress managing partner Joshua Pack said at the time that the UK remained “a very attractive investment environment” and insisted the firm would “continue to explore opportunities to help strong management teams grow their businesses and create long-term value”.

It struck a deal to acquire one of Britain’s largest pub chains, Punch Pubs, for almost £1bn in December, but has remained on the hunt for further acquisitions. 

An auction for MFG has not formally kicked off but Fortress has already emerged as a potential suitor. 

MFG has grown to become the largest independent operator of petrol forecourts, behind only BP and Shell, after a string of acquisitions.

In 2018, it snapped up market leader MRH for £1.2bn, creating a group operating under fuel brands such as BP, Esso, Shell and Texaco.

Following CD&R’s acquisition of Morrisons, many city analysts expected the private equity firm to merge MFG’s assets with those of the supermarket giant.

However, any plans for such a move were shelved after a similar deal between EG Group and Asda was abandoned last October.

Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who own both businesses alongside TDR Capital, had planned for EG to acquire Asda’s petrol forecourts for £750m but scrapped the move.   

SoftBank-owned Fortress has existing knowledge of the petrol forecourt sector. It has owned United Pacific, the largest independent fuel retailer in the western USA, for almost 10 years. 

CD&R, which has owned MFG since 2015, has instructed Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Citi and Royal Bank of Canada to oversee a sale or IPO, though the latter is considered to be less likely. 

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