BLACKBURN’S billionaire brothers are in talks to merge their petrol forecourt business with an overseas company, reports suggest.   

The Issa brothers are said to be in discussions with Canadian shopping giant Couche-Tard about a possible merger.

Reports in the Wall Street Journal, where the news first broke, suggest that negotiations are in the very early stages with no deal agreed.

Zuber and Mohsin Issa founded the EG Group in 2001 – growing their business from a single forecourt in Bury to become one of the largest petrol station operators in the world.

They own hundreds of filling stations in the UK and Europe, as well as in the US.

As recently as last week news broke that the business moguls had agreed a deal to buy almost 300 forecourts in Germany with the EG Group acquiring OMV Deutschland GmbH for €485million.

This has seen an extra 285 service stations added to their ever-growing portfolio.

The report in the Wall Street Journal states ‘Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc, which runs 7,000 convenience stores in the U.S. and as many abroad, and the EG Group have traded proposals in recent weeks that would value EG at roughly $16 billion or more including debt.’

It continued: “The talks have so far failed to produce a deal and they may not lead to one, some of the people said.

“Should the companies combine, the new group would have over $70 billion in annual revenue and some 21,000 fast-food joints, gas stations and grocery stores in more than 30 countries.

“It would bring together EG’s network in the U.K., Western Europe and Australia with Couche-Tard’s in the U.S., Canada, Northern Europe and a smattering of other countries.”

In April the Lancashire Telegraph reported how the EG Group is set to create more than 32,000 jobs globally over the next five years.

Some 22,700 of the new jobs will be created in the UK by December 2026, including 210 new highly-skilled and entry level roles at its head office in Blackburn where it currently employs 900 staff.

Mohsin and Zuber Issa, the co-founders and co-chief executives of EG Group, said: “As EG continues to go from strength to strength, we will be creating a large number of new jobs over the coming years, particularly in our successful foodservice business ‒ which remains a significant growth opportunity globally.

"We are proud to be a business founded in Britain that invests in job creation worldwide, while focusing heavily on the training and development of colleagues.

“EG has a strong track record of providing colleagues with long-term opportunities to progress their career at all levels and we are passionate about continuing this.”

In the UK, the EG Group will deliver many of the new jobs by rolling out its proprietary brands to new sites.

The brands are Cooplands, the nation’s second-biggest bakery chain, and LEON, the 'naturally fast food' brand.

It will also create new jobs by accelerating openings for its existing third-party brand partners - notably Starbucks and KFC.

Approximately 9,700 new jobs will also come from growth in EG’s nine overseas markets.

Cooplands plans to open 30 outlets a year through 2026.