Fortress says no inquiry into £6.3bn Morrisons deal

Fortress Investment Group said on Friday the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has not opened an inquiry into the group’s consortium-backed £6.3 billion agreed takeover deal for Bradford-based supermarket giant Morrisons.

Fortress, a subsidiary of SoftBank Group, is backed in the deal by a consortium that includes the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), Koch Real Estate Investments and Cambourne Life Investment, an investment vehicle of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC.

US private equity firm Apollo Global Management has also said it is in talks to join the Fortress consortium.

In a stock exchange statement, Fortress said: “Bidco announces that the CMA has responded to the briefing paper submitted by Bidco in respect of the Fortress Offer to confirm that it has no further questions in relation to the Fortress Offer and, as at the date of this announcement, has not otherwise opened an inquiry, or indicated in writing that it is still investigating whether to open an inquiry.”

The Fortress-led offer agreement for Morrisons includes a scheme of arrangement with a 75% hurdle for shareholder acceptance.

Some shareholders have already announced they do not support the offer in its current form.

The board of Morrisons said on July 3 it agreed to a takeover offer from the investors led by Fortress which values the share capital of the Bradford-based supermarket giant at £6.3 billion.

Under the terms of that deal, Morrisons shareholders, who must approve the deal, would receive £2.52 in cash and a 2p special dividend for each Morrisons share.

The £2.54-per-share cash offer exceeded an earlier £5.5 billion cash takeover approach from US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) pitched at £2.30 a share, which Morrisons rejected.

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice has until August 9 to make its intentions clear.

Morrisons shares have risen to around £2.68, suggesting that investors may expect a higher bid to emerge.

The Fortress-led deal would value Morrisons at £9.4 billion after including net debt and leases worth £3.2 billion.