Somerfield deal cleared

By Leah Vyse

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Private equity

The European Commission has approved the takeover of British
retailer Somerfield, by the Apax consortium.

Somerfield accepted the £1.1billion (€1.6bn) offer last month from the consortium which includes Iranian property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz, private equity firm Apax Partners, investment bank Barclays Capital and four of Somerfield's executive directors, including chief executive Steve Back.

Retail analyst at Planet Retail Bryan Roberts believes the sale will now go through smoothly in the UK and Britain's fifth largest supermarket will maintain its strong market position without too many internal changes.

He told​: "Somerfield has managed to hold its own amid fierce competition within the market. The management team is widely respected and it would be slightly foolish to change."

The bid brought to a close months of speculation and intrigue. There was a huge amount of interest in the company that also owns the Kwik-Save chain.

Earlier in the year for example, owners of London & Regional Properties, Ian and Richard Livingstone, along with Japanese bank Nomura made an offer.

However, the terms of the offer were deemed unsuitable by the Bristol-based chain, which also turned down a £1 billion offer from Iceland-based Bauger, who has already completed a number of deals on the British high street.

At one point United Co-operatives and Asda were rumoured to be exploring the possibility of joining the takeover race in a bid to increase their market share.

And in 2003 Somerfield turned down an £594 million offer from retail entrepreneurs John Lovering and Bob Mackenzie.

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