LONDON: British supermarket group Morrisons has accepted an improved £7.0-billion counter-bid from US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, and withdrawn support for a lower offer from Softbank-owned Fortress. The CD&R deal, worth the equivalent of $9.6 billion or 8.2 billion euros, is the latest twist in a months-long takeover tussle for ownership of Britain’s fourth biggest supermarket group.
New York-based CD&R announced late Thursday that it had reached a deal with Morrisons management for an offer pitched at 285 pence per share, worth £9.7 billion including debt. “The Morrisons board believes that the offer from CD&R represents good value for shareholders,” said Morrisons chairman Andrew Higginson in the statement.
“CD&R have a strong record of developing, strengthening and growing the businesses that they invest in and they share our vision for Morrisons’ future.” The new deal trumps a rival £6.7-billion bid, agreed earlier this month from an international consortium comprising Fortress, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Koch Real Estate and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.
CD&R increased its bid after Morrisons had rejected its previous £5.5-billion offer in June. The retail giant has been caught in a bidding war as the country’s supermarket sector benefits hugely from a shift to online shopping during the pandemic. Morrisons-which trails the UK’s top three supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda-has almost 500 stores and more than 110,000 employees. – AFP