The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will now announce the findings of its investigation into the proposed Sainsbury's-Asda merger on 30 April, close to two months on from the previously planned publication date of 5 March.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal announced the extended deadline, after Sainsbury's and Asda brought a case against the CMA over the time offered to respond to evidence.
The issues regarding the deadline were also exacerbated by the fact that time periods involved spanned Christmas and New Year.
'Large And Complex' Merger
Announcing its judgement, the Tribunal said that the 'case highlights the difficulties, as much for the CMA as for the parties, created by the statutory deadlines in the case of a particularly large and complex merger.
'The public interest does not benefit if the period in which the inquiry has to be completed is unreasonably compressed.'
While it said that such cases are currently rare, the planned departure of the UK from the European Union could mean that 'this problem is likely to be multiplied'.
It called for a revision of statutory deadlines, 'to provide for the greater flexibility that is available under the EU merger regime, and perhaps also expressing the deadline for Phase 2 in terms of working days (as it already is
for Phase 1)'.
According to the CMA's original administrative timetable, the final report on the merger was due to be published in 'early March'. The merger reference was created in September of last year.
© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.