£7bn takeover deal approved by Morrisons shareholders

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Shareholders of Bradford-headquartered supermarket chain Morrisons have approved a £7bn takeover offer from a US private equity group.

It means Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) can now continue to take over the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket group.

Morrisons has confirmed 99.2% of shareholders voted in favour of the deal.

The takeover had been the subject of a bidding war between two US-based investment groups. The CD&R private equity group won the auction early in October with an offer of 287p per Morrisons ordinary share, against a competing bid from Fortress, for 286p per share.

CD&R’s auction offer was higher than the 285p-a-share offer that was recommended by Morrisons’ board in August.

In July, Morrisons rejected an offer worth £5.5bn from CD&R, saying it “significantly undervalued” the business.

Morrisons chairman, Andrew Higginson, today said: “We thank shareholders for the strong support received at today’s meetings.

“We remain confident CD&R will be a responsible, thoughtful and careful owner of Morrisons and we will now move forward with the remaining steps in the acquisition process.”

There has been speculation that Sir Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Tesco who is a senior adviser to CD&R, could be appointed chair of Morrisons.

Sir Terry has commented: “We are very pleased to have received the approval of shareholders and are excited at the opportunity that lies ahead.

“The particular heritage, culture and operating model of Morrisons are key features of the company and we will be very mindful of these during our tenure as owners.

“We very much look forward to working with the Morrisons team, not just to preserve the company’s many strengths – but to build on these, with innovation, capital and new technology – helping the business realise its full potential.”

The takeover deal is forecast to be completed on 27 October.

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