The Co-op Group’s takeover of Nisa will not be cleared until April 20 at the earliest, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced today (Thursday).

The first phase of the CMA’s investigation into the takeover opened today and runs until 20 April, when the deal will either be cleared or referred for an in-depth investigation lasting up to 24 weeks. The Co-op had initially expected the CMA’s decision in March.

The latter scenario would occur if the CMA identifies a potential reduction in competition - unless the merging parties can offer proposals following the first phase of the investigation which address any concerns identified.

Costcutter is also expected to make a full transition to the Co-op as its new supply partner in April, but chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer said it would have to “wait and see what the CMA says about the Nisa takeover first”.

The CMA is now seeking views on the merger from all interested parties. Those interested are invited to submit their views by 8 March 2018. Further details will be available on the investigation case page.