LONDON (AP) – UK supermarket chain Morrisons plans to end a bidding war for the company by holding an auction between two US-based investment groups that have made competing bids.
Private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice has offered Morrisons about £ 7 billion ($ 9.6 billion), exceeding the £ 6.7 billion offer from a group led by Fortress Investment. But neither of the two bidders declared their final offer within the deadline set by the regulators.
As a result, Morrisons said on Wednesday it was in talks with the bidders and the UK Takeover Panel to hold an auction which will provide “an orderly framework for resolving this competitive situation”.
The competition for Morrisons began in June when Clayton, Dubilier & Rice made an unsolicited bid for the company. Morrisons, the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket chain, operates 497 stores and 339 gas stations across the country.
British assets have attracted interest from overseas buyers after uncertainty surrounding the UK’s departure from the European Union and the fallout from COVID-19 restrictions weighed on stock prices. The UK benchmark FTSE 100 has fallen 6.5% since the start of last year, compared to a 40% gain for the S&P 500.
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Morrisons said he expects the auction to be completed by mid-October, when shareholders are due to meet to review the bids.
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