CD&R wins £7bn auction for British supermarket chain Morrisons

Bid could end six-month takeover battle for UK's fourth-largest supermarket

US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice won the auction for Morrisons, the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket, with a £7 billion ($9.48bn) bid after a six-month battle for the British supermarket chain.

CD&R had offered 287p a share, while a consortium led by the SoftBank-owned Fortress Investment Group offered 286p.

A share offer of 285p was recommended by Morrisons' board in August.

The board, which will meet on Saturday, is now expected to recommend shareholders accept the new offer at a meeting set for October 19.

If shareholders approve the offer, CD&R could complete its takeover of Morrisons by the end of the month.

The company, which employs more than 110,000 staff at nearly 500 stores across Britain, has been at the centre of a bidding battle for months.

The auction was held because neither CDR or Fortress lodged a final offer on their earlier bids.

Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Britain's biggest supermarket Tesco, is a senior adviser to CD&R.

Morrisons, based in Bradford, northern England, began as an egg and butter merchant in 1899. It listed its shares in 1967 and is Britain's largest supermarket after Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda.

Morrisons shares had closed at 297p on Friday, indicating investors expected a higher bid.

In a statement, Fortress said it wished those involved with Morrisons the best for the future, adding: “The UK remains a very attractive investment environment from many perspectives, and we will continue to explore opportunities to help strong management teams grow their businesses and create long-term value.”

Updated: October 4th 2021, 4:00 AM