A £7bn bid for the supermarket chain Morrisons by US private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice has been backed by the supermarket’s board, edging the company towards a takeover of the Bradford-based grocer.
The offer by CD&R tops a rival bid by a private equity-backed consortium of £6.7bn, and is the latest development in a bidding war for Britain’s fourth-biggest supermarket by market share.
CD&R saw a £5.5bn approach swiftly rejected by Morrisons in June. That was followed by a £6.7bn offer from the consortium led by Fortress Investment Group earlier this month, in response to speculation that CD&R was preparing a fresh bid.
The board of Morrisons had initially backed the offer from Fortress Investment Group, but on Thursday night it switched its recommendation to its shareholders to instead approve the CD&R bid.
Last week, CD&R was granted more time to “put-up or shut-up”. The firm had made the request for additional time on Friday – ahead of a Takeover Panel deadline for any counter bids to have been submitted.
The takeover talk has prompted concerns from MPs about the potential for new owners selling off property assets or reducing the rights of workers.
The original Fortress-led deal agreed by the Morrisons board included commitments to the current management team, strategy and its £10 per hour shop floor wage.
CD&R has been weighing options for similar commitments, Bloomberg News reported.
Analysts speculated in early August that Amazon, which has a partnership deal with Morrisons, could still enter the fray.
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