British supermarket group Morrisons is in talks with its two U.S. private equity suitors and the Takeover Panel, which governs deals in the UK, regarding an auction procedure to settle its future ownership, it said on Wednesday.
Last month, Morrisons agreed a 7 billion pound ($9.6 billion)offer from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R). However, a rival consortium led by Softbank-owned Fortress Investment Group could still trump CD&R’s bid.
Morrisons said shareholder meetings to vote on the CD&R offer will be convened for a date in or around the week starting Oct. 18.
It said any auction process would take place prior to these shareholder meetings, on a date that would be announced by the Takeover Panel.
Following completion of an auction process, Morrisons shareholders would vote on either a Fortress or CD&R offer, depending on which offer Morrisons’ board recommends.
Morrisons said it expected a scheme document on CD&R’s offer to be posted to shareholders around Sept. 25.
CD&R’s latest offer is worth 285 pence per Morrisons share.
Morrisons shares closed Tuesday at 291.1 pence, indicating investors are hoping for a higher offer.