Sainsbury's and Asda merger 'must be investigated'

Walmart on edge of UK market: Sainsbury and Asda in merger talks

Before the deal can be given a green light, economists at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are expected to spend months poring over a map of the combined group's store network.

The Qatar Investment Authority, which in the past has tried to buy Sainsbury's, is now the supermarket group's biggest shareholder with a 22 percent stake.

If the deal goes ahead, Walmart, which has owned Asda since 1999, will receive Sainsbury's shares in exchange for Asda's circa 600 supermarkets, becoming the company's biggest shareholder.

Sainsbury's said a further statement on the proposed merger would be made on Monday.

"Sainsbury's confirms that it and Walmart Inc are in advanced discussions regarding a combination of the Sainsbury's and Asda businesses".

Retro 90s fashion is a huge trend on the high street at the moment but that nostalgia has now spilled over into food retail as the supermarket giant Sainsbury's attempts a blockbuster deal that will result in it seizing back the United Kingdom grocery crown it surrendered to Tesco in 1995.

Sir Vince said the CMA should force the companies to sell off stores if the merger meant the new giant was dominant in a particular area, telling the watchdog's new chief, Andrew Tyrie, to "get tough with monopolies".

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It involved launching Argos concessions in Sainsbury's shops, encouraging shoppers to buy Argos products online, pick them up in-store and hopefully buy something in the supermarket along the way.

The source said Mike Coupe, Sainsbury's chief executive, would lead the combined group.

Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "Our first priority is to safeguard the job of every single Asda member, both in stores and in distribution".

Walmart Inc.'s plan to shed control of its United Kingdom grocery chain, Asda, reflects a global strategy to emphasize faster-growing markets over some of its more mature ones.

The source described the planned deal - which would further consolidate Britain's fiercely contested grocery market and help Walmart address its underperforming United Kingdom business - as a "merger".

A combination of two of the UK's biggest supermarket chains would be subject to review by the British Competition and Markets Authority.

"Recent experience, with the rise of Aldi and Lidl triggering a supermarket price war, supports the case for a less concentrated groceries sector - not a more concentrated one", he said.

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