Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc rejected as undervalued an unsolicited proposal from U.S. buyout firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice LLC that valued the U.K. grocery chain at about 5.5 billion pounds ($7.6 billion).
Morrison received a proposed cash offer at 230 pence a share on June 14 and rejected it three days later after discussions with its adviser Rothschild & Co., the company said in an emailed statement Saturday. The proposal is about 29% more than Friday’s close in London, a hefty premium for investors nursing a 6.3% decline over the past 12 months.
Private equity investors are seeking to capitalize on the improving fortunes of leading supermarket chains after lockdowns triggered a surge in in-store and online grocery spending. Morrison and competing U.K. supermarkets including Tesco Plc and J Sainsbury Plc appear to have weathered the reopening of restaurants well, suggesting that consumer habits may have permanently shifted in their favor.
By Jan-Henrik Foerster and Deirdre Hipwell
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