United Kingdom supermarket giant Sainsbury says in merger talks with Asda

Sainsbury's and Asda

Asda, which Walmart bought in 1999 for 6.7 billion pounds, is one of the retail giant's largest and worst-performing worldwide businesses. Together they would have a share of 31.4 per cent, putting them ahead of current market leader Tesco which has a share of 27.6 per cent. It said they will make a further announcement at 0600 GMT on Monday.

If the merger goes ahead between Sainbury's and Asda -Britain's second and third largest supermarket chains - the combined group would comprise 2,800 stores and would represent about 30 per cent of the United Kingdom grocery market, similar to Tesco's share. Sainsbury's confirms that it and Walmart Inc are in advanced discussions regarding a combination of the Sainsbury's and Asda businesses.

The source described the planned deal - which would consolidate a brutally competitive United Kingdom food market while helping Walmart address its underperforming United Kingdom arm through greater buying power - as a "merger".

"It's hard to believe it would not require considerable store disposals and there aren't many buyers out there".

There is promise, however, that a deal could be approved after the CMA's decision to allow Tesco to take over Booker, the UK's largest food wholesaler in a deal worth £3.7 billion.

Sainsbury's has a predominantly southern bias to its store estate, while Asda, which is headquartered in Leeds, is more heavily concentrated in the north of England.

Traditional retailers like Sainsbury and Asda have also been put under pressure by the growth in online retailers and low-priced rivals like Aldi and Lidl.

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Even casual observers of the grocery sector - and, since we all buy food, that means we're.

The deal would be the largest in the United Kingdom supermarket sector since Morrisons acquired the Safeway business in 2004. One of the sources said he would stay at the combined group.

The deal is expected to be scrutinised by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Sainsbur‎y's has itself been acquisitive in recent years, snapping up Argos and examining takeovers of wholesale businesses such as Palmer & Harvey, which collapsed into administration last year.

Mike Coupe, the Sainsbury's chief executive, is said to have been a driving force behind the proposed merger.

A second attempt to secure large-scale consolidation‎ in the retail industry would, analysts say, underline the belief that bigger companies will be better-placed to withstand the competitive threat from Amazon and other big digital retailers. Asda did not respond to requests for comment.

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