Asda has hired investment bank Lazard to advise it on the £2.5bn auction of Somerfield.

The Grocer revealed on Saturday that Asda was frontrunner in the race to buy Somerfield, which has been put up for auction by its private equity owners.

Asda is thought to be considering an outright acquisition or buying some of Somerfield's 955 stores and also hired Lazard when Somerfield was last put up for sale three years ago, according to The Times.