Wal-Mart Stores and Massmart are considering their legal options after a hearing on the proposed takeover of the South African retailer by the US retail giant was delayed yesterday (22 March).

The companies are awaiting competition approval before they can complete the US$2.3bn takeover deal that will see Wal-Mart take a controlling 51% stake in Massmart. The takeover has been vigorously opposed by unions, who claim that it is “not in South Africa’s interest” to let Wal-Mart into the market.

In a ruling handed down yesterday, the South African Competition Tribunal said that the hearing on the deal would be delayed from its original date in April to 9-16 May in order to allow government bodies time to submit additional information. The decision followed claims by unions that an earlier date would inhibit their ability to cross examine witnesses and prejudice the hearing.

In a joint statement, released today, the companies said: “Massmart and Wal-Mart are considering, together with their legal advisers, their options to facilitate an expeditious and fair regulatory hearing.”