Oct 4, 2021
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US group including ex-Tesco CEO wins Morrisons auction

Oct 4, 2021

UK grocery and general merchandise retailer Morrisons is being acquired by the first group that actually made a rebuffed bid for it earlier this year, with American group Clayton, Dubilier & Rice winning the auction for the company at the weekend.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

It means that the deal — which also sees CD&R taking over Morrisons’ Nutmeg clothing and homewares own-brand — will see former Tesco CEO Terry Leahy returning to supermarket retail.

The auction saw CD&R competing against a consortium by the name of Fortress and bidding 287p per share compared to the Fortress offer of 286p per share. The winning bid values the company at £7 billion, or almost £10 billion when debt is included.

The Morrisons board said it would unanimously back the bid and recommend it to shareholders, who will vote on it later this month. Assuming it all goes through, the company will cancel its London stock exchange listing and will be privately held. It would be the second of the big four UK supermarkets to move into private hands this year after Asda was sold by Walmart to its current owners.

Terry Leahy is primed to take over from Andrew Higginson as Morrisons chairman after the deal goes through, his first leadership role at a UK supermarket in a decade.

Meanwhile, there’s intense speculation that other UK retailers are in the sights of private equity groups for possible takeovers. Both Sainsbury's and M&S have been mentioned as potential takeover targets.

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