Two billionaire brothers raised in a terraced house in Blackburn are on the brink of buying supermarket giant Asda.
Self-made tycoons Mohsin and Zuber Issa are part of an expected £6.5billion takeover of Britain’s third biggest grocer.
An announcement could be made as early as this week.
It would cap a remarkable rise for the brothers whose mother and father came to Britain from India in the 1960s with little to their name.
Mohsin, 49, and Zuber, 48, started out in a garage which their dad, who had worked in a woollen mill, bought.
They branched out on their own, first renting a petrol station for two years, then in 2001 buying their first forecourt, a derelict freehold site in Bury, and formed Euro Garages.
Their empire, the EG Group, now has almost 6,000 sites across 10 countries, from the UK to the US and Australia, runs outlets for Greggs, Starbucks and KFC, and employs 44,000 people.
In 2017, it bought 77 Little Chef roadside restaurants.
Zuber said: “We grew (EG) from nothing.
“We’ve been on the pumps, we’ve been stocking the shelves, cleaning the toilets. You do everything.
“And once you do the foundation work, it’s no different wherever you go in the world. It’s a petrol station; you’re selling fuel, you’re selling coffee, you’re selling convenience.”
Mohsin said the company “makes more money selling a cup of coffee than we would do on an average tank fill-up”.
Sources describe the low-profile brothers as humble, with a strong connection to their Blackburn roots.
They have just opened a £35million HQ in the town and in 2012 set-up local football team Euro Garages FC.
But the brothers, worth £3.56billion, have splashed out in other ways.
In 2017 they bought a Grade II listed Georgian townhouse in London’s Kensington for £25million, which is now being converted into a luxury home.
Meanwhile, it is just a 10 minute drive from Blackburn’s terraced streets to wide open spaces of the town’s millionaire’s row overlooking the rolling Lancashire hills.
It is here that the siblings are building five giant homes for them and their relatives.
In a barber shop on a sloping street where they used to live in an end terraced house, the family are fondly remembered.
“They are good people, a very nice family” said one man.
“Zuber used to come in here to have his hair cut. They are good people who worked hard.”
As their petrol station business started to expand after the turn of the millennium, Zuber and Mohsin wanted to stay in the same area and moved with their families to a newly built large detached home just a short five minute stroll away.
Their parents still live in the area, close to the local mosque, but now it seems they will be joining their sons in a row of five incredible mansions, complete with basement swimming pools, on the edge of the town.
The brothers also set-up the ISSA Foundation which funds projects promoting health and educating and tackling poverty in the UK and abroad and which bought an MRI scanner for Blackburn Royal Hospital.
Mohsin, who is married and with two grown-up children, runs the business day-to-day, while Zuber is responsible for strategy and acquisitions.
However, the money for the Asda takeover is coming from their personal fortunes.
Private equity firm TDR, which owns half of the EG Group, is expected to put in a big chunk.
And it is believed Asda’s parent company, US giant Walmart, will retain a stake, although the rumoured sale price is £5billion less than it paid for the chain in 1999.
The sale came after a recent mega merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda was blocked on competition grounds.
A man strolling along the Issas old terraced street said: “They have done very well for themselves but they have stayed in Blackburn.
“People have been talking about them buying Asda and are pleased for them.
“They are well like people and have done well. Good luck to them.”