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Competition & Markets Authority Rules on Proposed Merger Between Supermarket Giants Asda & Sainsbury’s

25 April

Competition & Markets Authority Rules on Proposed Merger Between Supermarket Giants Asda & Sainsbury’s

Today's report from Competition & Markets Authority states the reasons the proposed merger between supermarket giants Asda & Sainsbury’s was rejected - we take a look

Today saw the final report released from the UK’s competition watchdog – Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), stating the reasons the proposed merger between supermarket giants Asda & Sainsbury’s was rejected.

The CMA is the Government department responsible for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and regulated industries whilst enforcing the UK’s competition and consumer law. When investigating a merger, the CMA consider a two pronged approach – firstly, whether the merger would result in a ‘substantial lessening of competition’ (SLC) in the market, and secondly, if this would be created, investigate options which would ‘remedy, mitigate or prevent’ this effect.

In relation to this proposed deal, the CMA concluded that there was ‘no effective way of addressing the concerns, other than to block the merger’. This is despite proposals from the supermarket giants to close around 150 stores nationwide between them and promises of £1 billion per year cash injections to lower prices for the consumers. These proposals were not enough to convince the CMA that the issues created by the merger would sufficiently be remedied, mitigated or prevented.

The proposal would have seen £1 in every £3 spent in UK supermarkets being accounted for by the merger. The supermarkets however have stated that the planned merge would have cut costs which, in turn, would be reflected in the price the consumer pays for their shopping & fuel. However, the CMA state that the merger would, “lead to increased prices, reduced quality and choice of products, or a poorer shopping experience for all of their UK shoppers”.

The two groups have now agreed to terminate any proposed merger, with the CMA decision setting a cautious precedent for the future for any potential large scale mergers.

Our expert company lawyers have many years’ experience in Mergers & Acquisitions. We are skilled at advising and handling any negotiations which may arise should your business be approached about a merger or sale; these may involve agreeing the ‘heads of terms’, i.e. the key principles of the deal which relate to price, exclusivity and confidentiality or undertaking the necessary ‘due diligence’ to ensure that you know exactly what you’re getting into. We then project manage the whole transaction, linking the provision of finance with the needs of both parties, until successful completion. In addition to this, we can liaise with your tax advisers in relation to any potential transaction.

You can rely on us for advice after the deal too, in areas such as restructuring, shareholder advice, contracts and employment matters. After all, we are trusted by generations to deliver the best results for our commercial and private clients.