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Sainsbury’s share price: Watchdog to delay initial findings on Asda merger

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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is delaying publishing its initial findings on the merger of J Sainsbury (LON:SBRY) and Walmart’s Asda from early next month to early February, The Times has reported. The move came after earlier this week, the grocers, whose tie-up is set to create Britain’s biggest supermarket, asked for more time in the ongoing competition probe.

Sainsbury’s share price has fallen deep into the red in London in today’s session, having given up 1.32 percent to 276.20p as of 09:57 GMT. The decline is largely in line with losses in the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 1.09 percent lower at 6,802.53 points.

CMA to delay findings

The Times reported this morning that the CMA had reported the change to its Sainsbury’s-Asda merger enquiry a day after the parties disclosed that they were seeking a judicial review of its decision to refuse their request for an 11-day extension. The grocers argued that the current schedule does not give the parties or the watchdog sufficient time to provide and consider all the evidence.

The newspaper noted that the watchdog had said, however, that the change to its timetable was unrelated to the legal action underway and that its final statutory deadline to make a ruling on the tie-up still remained March 5. The CMA had said in a statement this week that if it gave extra time to the companies, it would put its “ability to complete the investigation by the required deadline at very serious risk”.

Analysts on Sainsbury’s

UBS reaffirmed Sainsbury’s as a ‘buy’ yesterday, while earlier this week, Shore Capital reiterated its ‘hold’ rating on the blue-chip grocer. According to MarketBeat, the company currently has a consensus ‘hold’ rating and an average price target of 318.25p.

As of 09:58 GMT, Friday, 14 December, J Sainsbury plc share price is 276.80p.

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