The retailers have issued a statement requesting the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) reviews the timetable and process to allow them more time to make their case for merger.
Asda and Sainsbury’s said in a joint statement the current timetable does not give the Parties or the CMA sufficient time to provide and consider all the evidence given the unprecedented scale and complexity of the case.
“Both parties have engaged constructively with the CMA to date and have made repeated requests for additional time,” the retailers said. “Specifically, we have asked the CMA for an additional 11 working days over the Christmas period to respond to a large amount of material recently provided to us.
“We are confident in the merits of the deal and our ability to deliver the synergies. By bringing our two businesses together, we will invest further in range, quality and customer service, while lowering prices and reducing the cost of living for millions of UK households.”
The CMA said its first priority in this investigation is assessing if shoppers would face higher prices or a lower quality of service as a result of the merger and, if so, to prevent that from happening.
It said in a statement that if it gave the companies the extra time they are now asking for, “it would put our ability to complete the investigation by the required deadline at very serious risk. As with all of our merger reviews, we construct our timetable to ensure that everyone has the chance to have their say, including customers, the companies involved and suppliers.”
The CMA argued it was normal to have to deal with a lot of paperwork in a short timeframe. “It is not unusual for the companies involved to do this in the timelines we have been working to with Sainsbury’s and Asda. We have done everything we can to aid their consideration of this work, whilst still ensuring we are able to meet our legally-binding deadline. This includes extending certain administration timelines where appropriate.”