Wednesday 12 December 2018 8:32 am

Sainsbury’s share price under pressure as it asks for more time on Asda merger probe

Sainsbury’s has seen its share price tumble five per cent so far today, after it joined Asda in appealing to the courts for more time to argue its case over a planned £15bn merger between the two supermarkets.

Both grocers said this morning that they have lodged a request to review the timetable and process of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation that is looking at the proposed tie-up.

In the City such news was digested with an element of caution, with the share price of Sainsbury's sliding five per cent amid fears the merger could be rejected when the CMA gives its final ruling next year.

A number of rival supermarkets have expressed their concerns to the CMA over the takeover plans, which would create Britain's largest supermarket group, overtaking Tesco.

In a statement today Sainsbury’s and Asda said: "This is a case of unprecedented size and complexity and we have a responsibility to our customers and colleagues to ensure that we and the CMA have enough time to make and consider all the facts and evidence.

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly. It is about ensuring a thorough process and reasonable timetable. We remain confident in the case for merging the businesses and the significant customer benefits."

A CMA spokesperson replied: "If we 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."