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UK court rules regulator treated Sainsbury's, Asda unfairly in probe

UK court rules regulator treated Sainsbury's, Asda unfairly in probe
FILE PHOTO: Shopping bags from Asda and Sainsbury's are seen in Manchester, Britain April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble/illustration/File Photo -
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Phil Noble(Reuters)
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LONDON (Reuters) - A British court ruled on Friday the competition regulator treated Sainsbury's <SBRY.L> and takeover target Asda unfairly in not allowing the supermarket groups more time to provide responses to evidence submitted as part of a probe of their deal.

Sainsbury's agreed a 7.3 billion pound takeover of Walmart <WMT.N> owned Asda in April and the deal is currently being probed by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

On Wednesday the two companies said they would apply to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) for a judicial review of the CMA's phase two investigation of the deal, which started in September.

Sainsbury's and Asda had asked the CMA for an extra 11 working days over the Christmas period to respond to a large amount of evidence material recently provided to them but the CMA had declined the request.  The CAT ruled in Sainsbury's and Asda's favour on Friday and found that the timetable for responding to the materials and attending a hearing were both unfair.

"The parties took this step reluctantly and look forward to re-engaging with the CMA and Panel and working constructively with them going forward," Sainsbury's and Asda said in a joint statement. 

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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