CMA extends Sainsbury’s Asda merger investigation

With the complexity of the proposed mega-merger of Asda and Sainsbury’s, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has extended the reference period for its investigation.

The reference period was originally set to end on the 5th March but the CMA has announced it is now to be extended by eight weeks.

Provisional findings are set to be published by the CMA later this month and it will also consider possible remedies. Sainsbury’s and Asda have until the middle of March to respond.

The final report will then be published in April.

The CMA’s Inquiry Group said the decision to extend the reference period reflected “the scope and complexity of the investigation and the need to consider issues raised by the main parties’ and third parties’ submissions, and the need to reach a fully reasoned provisional decision.”

As two of the biggest retailers in the UK, and Saiasbury’s recent acquisition of Argos putting it into online competition with Amazon, this could be the most significant merger of the year should the results of the CMA investigation not demand the new company be stripped back too far.