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LONDON, May 18 (Reuters) - Booker, the British wholesaler that has agreed a $4.8 billion takeover by Tesco , said it still expected the deal to complete by early 2018 at the latest as it reported a 15 percent rise in annual profit.
The two sides announced the combination in January and although both companies are currently engaging with Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the regulator is yet to formally confirm the start of a Phase 1 investigation.
"During this process Booker will ensure it is 'Business as Usual,"' it said, adding that it was working to assist competition regulators in their consideration of the deal.
"We are excited by the opportunities the merger creates for consumers, our customers, suppliers, colleagues and shareholders."
Booker 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.
It made a pretax profit of 174 million pounds in the year to March 24, slightly ahead of analysts' average forecast of 173.3 million pounds, according to Reuters data and reflecting progress across the catering and retail supply sides of the business.
Total sales for the year, announced in March, were 5.3 billion pounds, up 6.7 percent.
Booker said revenue in the first seven weeks of its new financial year was ahead of last year.
It is paying a total dividend per share of 5.6 pence and a special dividend of 3.02 pence.
Shares in Booker, up 23 percent so far this year, closed Wednesday at 199.2 pence.
The Tesco cash and share offer values the stock at around 199.6 pence, based on Wednesday's closing prices. ($1 = 0.7721 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton)