An investigation into the proposed merger between Leeds-headquartered Asda and Sainsbury’s could be extended.

A ruling published by the Competition Appeal Tribunal on Friday says that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) expects to publish its final report and decision on the merger by April 30. Its initial deadline had been March 5. However, they can extend this by up to eight weeks.

The disclosure was revealed on Friday in a judgement by the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which was held in December. Sainsbury’s and Asda had brought the tribunal about after the CMA to refused their application for an 11-day extension because of the complexity of the case.

The CAT’s hearing document states: “In reaching this conclusion, we fully accept that the CMA has to take an overall view of the end-to-end process of the inquiry. Fairness does not require parties
to a merger to be given as much time as they believe, from their own perspective, may be necessary for them to respond to any documents. The effect of the overall statutory timetable means that their responses may have to be less complete or thorough than they would wish. Nonetheless, for the reasons we have set out, the time here allowed and the burden it imposed, crossed the line to unfairness.”