Sainsbury's, Walmart's Asda in talks to create United Kingdom grocery leader

30 April, 2018, 06:14 | Author: Sheri Evans
  • ExpressJ Sainsbury and Asda owners Wal Mart are in the final stages of an announcement to join forces

A major uncertainty surrounding any combination would be whether the move secures approval from Britain's competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), given that the deal would effectively create a duopoly.

A person close to the talks told the Financial Times that the "all share deal" is being structured so that Walmart will receive new shares in Sainsbury's and become the biggest shareholder in the company.

Sky News broke the story about the possible merger on Saturday, when it said that the two companies were in negotiations, with an announcement to be made as early as this coming Monday.

Together, they would move ahead of Tesco, with 26.7 per cent of the grocery market.

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"The middle ground has been squeezed the most by the inevitable march and expandability of the discounters, a reinvigorated Tesco with Booker under its wing is less arrogant and more relevant than with support from suppliers and conversion with shoppers - so the potential of Sainsbury's and Asda joining forces creates a new dimension for the United Kingdom grocery market", she said.

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".

Sainsbury's has confirmed that it is discussing a merger with Asda, the United Kingdom division of Walmart.

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

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Joanne McGuinness, national officer with the Usdaw shopworkers union, said: "We will be seeking urgent meetings with the businesses to get more detail on what a possible merger will involve. GMB will be making sure the voices of supermarket workers are not lost amid all the talk of mergers and acquisitions".

Meanwhile, Walmart is building fewer big stores and focusing more on Internet businesses in a bid to compete for the online shoppers who use Amazon.com Inc.

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".

It is understood that any investigation by the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) would only be announced once an intention to merge was formally unveiled.

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"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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