CMA’s decision on Sainsbury’s-Asda merger delayed almost 2 months

// Court allows CMA to extend deadline of handing down final verdict on Sainsbury’s-Asda merger
// The proposed mega-merger is worth £12 billion
// CMA has been seeking views on the proposed merger from interested parties

A court has ruled that the CMA’s verdict on the proposed Sainsbury’s-Asda merger will be delayed by almost two months to the end of April.

The UK’s peak competitions regulator was due to reveal its provisional findings on the deal on the proposed £12 billion merger in early February, with a final report slated for March 5.

However, the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s ruling, which was made on December 14 but published on January 18, said an extension of the deadline to April 30 was “now recognised to be necessary”.

Any extension of the final deadline, by up to eight weeks, is a decision for the CMA and would likely not be made public until it publishes its provisional report.

The tribunal’s ruling was related to a case brought by Sainsbury’s and Asda against the CMA over its refusal to give them more time to respond to evidence.

The tribunal court at the time said the grocery giants should be granted more time and had been treated unfairly.

The mega merger was first announced in April last year.

As part of its probe on the proposal, the CMA sought the views of interested parties like supermarkets and suppliers, publishing submissions as it received them.

Tesco, Morrisons, Lidl and Waitrose have all expressed concerns about price rises and competition fairness while the National Farmers’ Union warned that the merger could reduce the choice and innovation of products and increase the squeeze on farmers.

Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe previously said the merger would lead to £500 million in cost savings and further investment to lower prices by around 10 per cent on everyday items.

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