Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe has taken almost £1.8 million in share awards from the supermarket giant within 10 days of announcing his company’s £12 billion merger with Asda.
According to The Telegraph, the chief executive snapped up 608,700 shares worth around £1.79 million.
The shares were given to him in two tranches, 279,024 and 329,676, and are linked to his long-term incentive awards from 2014 and 2016, which have now vested.
In order to pay taxes to his share plan, Couple also sold 286,663 shares valued at £845,655.
A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s stressed that Couple was “not selling any shares for cash” and that he was not “making any immediate profit”.
“He is selling a portion of shares to meet tax and national insurance obligations,” they added.
“This is standard practice and happens in May every year, immediately after the publication of our preliminary results.”
Sainsbury’s and Walmart-owned Asda first unveiled details of its proposed mega merger last week.
The deal is now poised to face scrutiny by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which said the deal was “likely to be subject to review” and that it would assess whether the deal could reduce competition and choice for shoppers.
The merger would result in Walmart holding 42 per cent of the new combined Sainsbury’s-Asda business, but it would not hold more than 29.9 per cent of the voting rights.
The US company would still have two seats on the board as non-executive directors of the new business entity, and it would also receive a £2.975 billion payment – valuing Asda at approximately £7.3 billion on a debt-free, cash-free and pension-free basis.
While bosses at the grocery giants initially insisted no stores would close as a result of the merger, they later conceded that possible outcomes from a CMA probe could force them to sell stores as part of modelling ahead of the merger.
The new mega retailer would see it operate a network of 2800 Sainsbury’s, Asda, Argos, Habitat and George stores across the UK.
Coupe promised a 10 per cent price slash on everyday items as a result of the merger, which could also lead to cost savings of £500 million.