Acquisition-hungry private equity houses would find Sir Ken Morrison as tricky a customer as the Sainsbury family, experts warned in the wake of this week's collapsed bid for Sainsbury's.
The failure of the attempted deal again raised speculation that private equity players could turn their attention to Morrisons.
The consortium admitted defeat on Wednesday after its £10.1bn offer was knocked back, saying: "It became clear the consortium would be unable to make a proposal that would result in a successful offer."
The bid had met stiff opposition from the Sainsbury family, which owns an 18% share. Any player considering a move for Morrisons would take note of this, said one private equity source.
"I think CVC underestimated the Sainsbury family. And in Sir Ken Morrison's position, I would suspect his pride would want to prove that the current management can build the business into a fantastic success on their own."
Numis Securities analyst Steve Davies agreed Sir Ken would not want to sell out to private equity, adding: "Morrisons is not as advanced in its recovery as Sainsbury's and a bid is less likely in the short term. But any bidder would have to get past Sir Ken."