A court has ruled that the CMA’s verdict on the retailers’ proposed merger will be delayed to the end of April.
As reported by Retail Gazette, the UK’s peak competitions regulator was due to reveal its provisional findings on the deal on the proposed £12b merger in early February, with a final report slated for 5th March. However, the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s ruling, which was made on 14th December but published on 18th January, said an extension of the deadline to 30th April 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 £500m in cost savings and further investment to lower prices by around 10% on everyday items.