The battle to buy supermarket giant Morrisons will go to an auction process, the supermarket has confirmed.
The sale could replicate the Issa Brothers’ takeover of Asda, and will see the grocer exchange hands in the biggest shake-up since its acquisition of Safeway in 2004.
US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) is vying with Fortress Investment Group, a vehicle backed by Japan’s Softbank conglomerate, for control of Britain’s fourth-biggest grocer.
The takeover panel today said on the basis that neither party has declared its offer final, a competitive situation continues to exist.
It said an auction procedure will take place on Saturday October 2, with a maximum of five rounds for the bidders to make their final offers.
Morrisons then has up until the morning of October 5 to make a recommendation to shareholders from the final deals on the table, which the shareholders will vote on later that month on October 19.
Both sides have agreed all bids will be at a fixed cash price and cannot include stakes in other businesses or dividends to shareholders.
If both sides are still bidding by the final round, Fortress must make its bid-per-share with an even number and CD&R with an odd number, to avoid the bids being the same.
The results will be published by Monday morning at the latest.
Earlier this month, Morrisons reported a 43% slump in half-year profits after COVID-19 costs took their toll and warned of price rises and product shortages amid current strains on supply chains.