The bidding war between rival US private equity firms for the ‘Big Four’ grocer Morrisons is reportedly set to be decided with an upcoming auction.
According to the Mail, The Takeover Panel will begin talks with both Fortress and Clayton, Dublier and Rice (CD&R) and the Morrisons board as early as this week to establish a format for the potential auction.
However, the paper added that both could still continue to bid up until the auction date with the bid elected by the board continuing to go to the shareholder vote, which is currently scheduled for CD&R’s latest £7bn bid, in October.
It also reports that the only way the auction can be avoided is if Fortress declines to launch an improved offer allowing the shareholder vote to go ahead as planned.
The news comes after three months of speculation and bidding for the future of the grocer. The latest development came on 20 August with the grocer revealing it had accepted a deal from CD&R which values the business at 285p per share, an increase of 13p per Morrisons Share and £332m total offer value on the terms of Fortress’ previous offer.
At the time, in response to the deal, rival firm Fortress released a short statement confirming it is “considering its options” and urged Morrisons shareholders “to take no action”, adding that a further announcement will be made in due course indicating that a new bid was possible.