A deal to buy Somerfield is expected to be announced within the next 48 hours as the last remaining consortium interested in the supermarket group races to beat tomorrow’s deadline for offers.

Reports suggest that the consortium, which includes Barclays Capital, Apax Partners and Robert Tchenguiz, yesterday held talks with Somerfield to iron out a deal.

The Takeover Panel has set a deadline of 5pm tomorrow (Friday) for the consortium to either make its bid or walk away.

Meanwhile, reports suggest that the consortium has lined up retail entrepreneur John Lovering as a potential chairman for Somerfield if their bid is successful.