The UK government has said it has referred the potential acquisition of 171 Somerfield stores by UK supermarket company J Sainsbury to the Competition Commission.

Sainsbury had asked for advance clearance for the acquisition of 171 of its rival’s stores, should they come up for sale.

Somerfield recently rejected a takeover offer from a consortium that involved Sainsbury, and said it wanted to keep the company intact. After the consortium abandoned its takeover attempt, Sainsbury decided to ask for clearance anyway, in case the stores were ever put up for sale.

The UK’s Office of Fair Trading, however, told the government that such an acquisition would reduce local competition, reported Reuters.