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US private equity firm CD&R wins takeover auction for Morrisons

By Huw Hughes

Oct 4, 2021

Management

Image: Nutmeg

US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) has narrowly won an auction to take control of UK supermarket chain Morrisons with a 7 billion pound (9.5 billion dollar) bid.

CD&R’s 287p a share bid was just above the 286p offer made by rival Fortress Investment Group, and follows a long takeover process that started back in June.

Morrisons, whose board previously recommended a price of 285p a share for a takeover bid, turned down an offer worth 5.5 billion pounds from CD&R in July.

“Today’s final offer from CD&R represents excellent value for shareholders while at the same time protecting the fundamental character of Morrisons for all stakeholders,” said Morrisons chair Andrew Higginson in a statement.

CD&R wins Morrisons takeover battle

Higginson said CD&R has “good retail experience” and “a strong record of developing and growing the businesses in which they invest”.

He continued: “We remain confident that CD&R will be a responsible, thoughtful and careful owner of an important British grocery business.

“Shareholders will now have the final say and, if the offer is approved, the board is confident that Morrisons will continue to go from strength to strength under CD&R’s ownership.”

Morrisons’ board has unanimously recommended the offer, with shareholders set to vote on the deal later this month.

Sir Terry Leahy, a senior adviser to CD&R funds, said: “We are gratified by the recommendation of the Morrisons board and look forward to the shareholder vote to approve the transaction.

“We continue to believe that Morrisons is an excellent business, with a strong management team, a clear strategy, and good prospects.”

While it predominantly focuses on groceries, Morrisons also sells fashion through its Nutmeg label. The brand was launched in March 2013 with babywear and kid’s clothing before debuting its dedicated womenswear collection in 2017.

A year later in 2018, Morrisons launched Nutmeg online via its own dedicated e-commerce platform.