Australia’s competition watchdog is to allow the planned A$18.1bn (US$14.6bn) takeover of retailer Coles Group.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said today (22 August) it would not block Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers from buying Coles, which will be the country’s largest takeover.

After studying the possible impacts of the deal, the ACCC said there is not likely to be a “substantial lessening of competition in any market” once Wesfarmers buys Coles.

Last week, Wesfarmers outlined its plans for Coles, which it expects to finally buy in November.

The strategy includes plans to split the business into three new divisions and an investment of about A$5bn in the Coles’ businesses over the next five years.

Wesfarmers secured agreement from the Coles board in June after other private equity bidders dropped out.

Coles, which operates 3,000 supermarkets, as well as discount stores and an office supply chain, decided to pursue a possible sale after it warned in February that its profits for fiscal 2008 were likely to fall by 10%.