A trio of private investment groups led by SoftBank-owned Fortress have struck a £9.5bn deal to acquire Wm Morrison, Britain’s fourth-largest supermarket chain.
Under the terms of a deal unveiled on Saturday morning, Fortress along with Canadian pension fund CPPIB and a unit of Koch Industries will pay 252p a share along with backing a 2p special dividend to buy the grocer. It values the equity of Morrisons at £6.3bn before the inclusion of £3.2bn of net debt.
The deal comes two weeks after the Bradford-based group said it had rejected an unsolicited 230p-per-share approach from private equity group Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
The Fortress-led bid values Morrisons shares at a 42 per cent premium to their price before the company disclosed the approach from CD&R. The deal marks the latest and largest example this year of the feverish pace that private equity funds are snapping up publicly-traded UK companies.
Andrew Higginson, Morrisons chair, said: “We have looked very carefully at Fortress’ approach, their plans for the business and their overall suitability as an owner of a unique British food-maker and shopkeeper with over 110,000 colleagues and an important role in British food production and farming.”
He added: “It’s clear to us that Fortress has a full understanding and appreciation of the fundamental character of Morrisons.”
More to follow . . .