Sainsbury's and Asda supermarket merger blocked by competition watchdog

Upon the disapproval from Britain’s competition watchdog, both supermarkets have ‘mutually agreed to terminate the transaction’.

Sainsbury Source: Bloomberg

Britain’s competition watchdog has blocked the merger of supermarket giants Sainsbury's and Asda, stating that the marriage would have resulted in lesser product options and higher prices in groceries.

‘The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has blocked the Sainsbury's-Asda merger after finding it would lead to increased prices in stores, online and at many petrol stations across the UK,’ the regulator said in a statement.

The transaction would also result in a ‘substantial lessening’ of competition both on a national level and a local level, the CMA said.

Upon the disapproval from Britain’s competition watchdog, both supermarkets have ‘mutually agreed to terminate the transaction’.

A year ago, Sainsbury's and Asda revealed plans to a merger, in a bid to challenge and get ahead of Tesco, a British multi-national groceries and general merchandise retailer.

The deal was to have Sainsbury's acquiring a majority share of 58% in the combined group and Walmart taking up the balance.

In the report, the CMA said that shoppers in the United Kingdom (UK) and motorists would be worse off if Sainsbury's and Asda - two of the country's largest supermarkets - were to merge, argued the CMA, due to expected increases in prices of items, reductions in the quality and range of products available, as well as a poorer overall shopping experience.

Even though both supermarket giants have now taken the merger off the table, Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe contended with the CMA’s views in a statement, stating that that the merger sought to ‘lower prices for consumers’, and added that the competition watchdog has ignored the 'dynamic and highly competitive nature of the UK grocery market’.


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