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Booker sees Tesco deal closing in early 2018

FILE PHOTO: A branded sign is displayed outside of a Booker Wholesale store in London, Britain January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - British wholesaler Booker (BOK.L) said on Thursday it expected its 3.7 billion pound takeover by Tesco (TSCO.L) to complete early next year, as it reported a 9 percent rise in first-half profit.

The agreed deal is currently being investigated by regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and provisional findings are expected by the end of the month, ahead of a final report by the end of the year.

"It is expected that the merger will complete in early 2018, subject to, amongst other things, the necessary shareholder approvals," Booker said.

The group supplies the Budgens, Londis, Happy Shopper and Premier convenience chains, catering firms such as Wagamama and Carluccio's, and also operates cash and carry business Makro.

Booker said it made a pretax profit of 88 million pounds in the 24 weeks to Sept. 8, up from 81 million pounds in the same period last year. Total sales rose 2.5 percent to 2.6 billion pounds with progress in both the catering and retail sides of the business.

It said non-tobacco revenue in the first four weeks of its new financial year is ahead of last year.

Booker said it will not be making forward looking statements for the duration of the Tesco offer period.

Shares in Booker, up 21 percent over the last year, closed at 205.3 pence on Wednesday, valuing the business at 3.66 billion pounds.

For each Booker share Tesco is offering 0.861 new Tesco shares and 42.6 pence in cash.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Jason Neely and Kate Holton)