Belinda Gannaway The City has been forced into a waiting game following Somerfield's announcement on Monday that it is in talks with one or more bidders. Few analysts believe the approach has come from a trade buyer either domestic or overseas. Talk centres on a handful of venture capitalists notably US buyout specialist Kohlberg Kravis Roberts which is interested in European food retailers. However, many analysts voice doubt as to why a venture house would be interested in the ailing retailer which saw sales down 8.4% in the first 10 weeks of the year. Philip Dorgan of Panmure Gordon said Somerfield would be unlikely to find a buyer at the current price. "There is a logic in venture capitalists looking at lowly valued companies. But the question is ­ what is the exit?" said Clive Black of CCF Charterhouse. "It's hard to see an overseas buyer wanting it and in my view the UK players have baulked at the chance of buying existing stores on the market." One option for a venture house would be a reflotation. Any such move would take the group full circle since its 1996 float to clear debts, so it is deemed unlikely. A statement by Somerfield said talks were at an early stage. It insisted the approach had come from a third party not connected to the group or its management. This scotched stories that chief executive David Simons had fallen out with the board over his desire to take the company private with the backing of private equity firms. Speculation about such a split has fuelled questions over Simons' future at the group. But Simons said this week: "All members of the board are equally aware of the details of this approach and the board has been, and remains, united in determining the appropriate response." {{NEWS }}