German retailers Edeka and Tengelmann are set for more talks with the country’s competition watchdog over plans to merge their discount stores.

The German Federal Cartel Office has again pushed back the deadline for a resolution over the deal, which was first agreed last November.

Talks were due to end this month but are now slated to last until 20 June. Discussions have been rumbling on for weeks with speculation mounting that Edeka or Tengelmann will have to sell off stores to get the deal through.

Under its deal with Tengelmann, Edeka plans to take a 70% stake in a venture that will run the NETTO and Plus discount outlets.

The venture will operate around 4,200 stores in total, generating annual sales of about EUR11bn (US$17.1bn).

Reports in Germany have claimed that the two retailers will have to sell 400 stores to secure the green light for the deal.

Edeka refused to be drawn on the negotiations, insisting both sides had agreed not to comment publicly until an agreement was struck. “We still have an ongoing process and the final deadline is 20 June,” a spokesman told just-food.

A spokesperson for the Cartel Office was equally coy about the talks but hinted that store disposals were being discussed. “We need more time to evaluate the [possible competition] remedies,” she said. “In such a merger case, a sale of some stores is the most obvious remedy.”

Officials at Tengelmann could not be reached for immediate comment.