January 18, 2019 / 12:31 PM / a month ago

UK regulator's verdict on Sainsbury's-Asda deal seen delayed: court

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past branches of ASDA and Sainsbury's in Stockport, Britain April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - A British court ruling has indicated that a final regulatory verdict on supermarket operator Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) proposed 7.3 billion pound ($9.5 billion) takeover of Walmart (WMT.N) unit Asda will be delayed until the end of April from early March.

Extension of the deadline to April 30 was “now recognized to be necessary”, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) said in a judgment made on Dec. 14 and published on Friday.

As things stand the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regulator is due to publish its provisional findings on the deal by early February and its final report in early March.

Any extension of the final deadline, by up to eight weeks, is a decision for the CMA and would likely not be made public until it publishes its provisional report.

The CAT judgment in December related to a case brought by Sainsbury’s and Asda against the CMA over its refusal to give them more time to respond to evidence.

The CAT ruled they should be granted more time and had been treated unfairly.

“We continue to work constructively with the CMA,” said a spokeswoman for both Sainsbury’s and Asda.

She said the CAT’s ruling had given the firms additional time to review and respond to documents.

(This story clarifies that statement from Sainsbury’s was issued jointly with Asda)

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Jason Neely and Jan Harvey

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