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Sainsbury’s-Asda verdict delayed

CMA decision on whether to approve the tie-up has been delayed by almost two months to allow supermarkets more time to respond to evidence

Sainsbury’s-Asda verdict delayed

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The Competition and Markets Authority's verdict on a controversial merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda will be delayed by almost two months, a court has ruled.

The competition watchdog was due to present its initial findings on the proposed £12 billion merger in early February and follow up with a final report on 5 March. However, on 18 January an earlier ruling from the Competition Appeal Tribunal was published, extending the deadline to 30 April.

The final report could be delayed by up to eight weeks beyond the planned 5 March deadline, although the CMA is not likely to make such a decision public until it publishes its provisional report.

The ruling by the tribunal relates to a case brought by Sainsbury’s and Asda against the CMA for refusing to give them more time to respond to evidence.

As part of the CMA’s investigation into the proposed merger, the CMA has heard from a range of organisations concerned about merger. Tesco, Morrisons, Lidl and Waitrose have said they are worried it may reduce competition and push up prices, while the NFU has warned the merger could squeeze producers and limit product choice and innovation.

When tie-up talks were announced back in April 2018, Sainsbury’s said the merger would deliver £500m a year in cost savings from improved buying power and operational cost efficiencies, insisting the retailers planned to lower prices on everyday items by as much as 10 per cent.

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