The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has extended its deadline for a probe into the proposed merger of grocery giants J Sainsbury PLC (LON:SBRY) and Walmart Inc's Asda by eight weeks to 30 April.
The UK regulator said the “scope and complexity” of the investigation and submissions from both the two main parties and third parties meant more time was needed to reach a “fully reasoned provisional decision”.
“Moreover, it is necessary to allow sufficient time to take full and proper account of comments that will be received in response to the Inquiry Group’s provisional findings and to reach a fully reasoned final decision in the statutory timeframe,” the statement said.
The extension of the CMA’s investigation into the merger, which if approved would create Britain’s largest supermarket, with around a third of the total market share, follows a dispute in December when the regulator turned down a request for more time by the two chains after Sainsbury’s argued the existing timeframe did not give the CMA enough time to provide and consider all the evidence.
When it rejected the application, the CMA said an extension at the company’s request would “put our ability to complete the investigation by the required deadline at very serious risk”.
The regulator is primarily concerned with whether shoppers would face higher prices or a lower quality of service as a result of the merger.
In late-afternoon trading on Monday, Sainsbury’s shares were up 0.7% at 294p.