Jonathan Branton, Head of EU and Competition, DWF, commented: “Given the stance that the CMA took with its provisional report in February, this announcement should come as no real surprise. It has clearly decided that whatever concessions Sainsbury’s and Asda were willing to make were not enough to allay its deep concerns over the potential impact on competitive tension in the market.
“It will be interesting to see what the CMA does the next time we see two of the UK's biggest competitors attempt to merge – whether it be in retail, energy or any other sector. Every merger is different of course, as are the perceived benefits and risks involved. However, today’s firm decision may mean companies take a bigger pause for thought in the future before investing in a mega merger dependent on such a critically sensitive CMA approval.”