The Daily Mail has picked up “red hot gossip” that Tesco and a private equity consortium, led by Permira, are both stalking Morrisons and an offer in the region of £6.42billion, or 275p a share, “could not be far away”.
“Consolidation in the UK food retailing space must be nailed on as all the participants fight for market share,” the paper writes. “Morrisons’ management is now crammed with ex-Tesco people. Chief executive David Potts, who replaced Dalton Philips, ran Tesco’s UK stores and its Asian business during his long tenure at the Cheshunt-based group. Chairman Andrew Higginson is a former Tesco finance director. They know each business inside and out so both would be able to help bring about a trouble-free union.” (The Daily Mail)
The Guardian has picked up The Grocer’s story that Asda is asking suppliers for discounts and cash contributions worth millions of pounds so it can fight back against the rise of discounters Aldi and Lidl by slashing prices for shoppers. The supermarket, which is expected to reveal a sixth consecutive quarter of declining sales today after a tough Christmas, is calling in suppliers for individual discussions about ways to cut prices by as much as 10%. (The Guardian)
Meanwhile, The Guardian says Asda has removed permanent collection points for food banks from stores across the UK, in a move that has caused alarm among charities and the supermarket chain’s customers. Following reports on social media that collection trolleys and boxes had disappeared from stores across Scotland, as well as in Hampshire, Lancashire, Norwich and Newcastle, the Guardian has established that Asda, which is owned by the US retail giant Walmart, has removed donation points from all of its UK stores. (The Guardian)
The chief executive of Nomad Foods has moved to allay investor disillusionment with the acquisition vehicle, promising to stem sliding sales at its Iglo brand and push ahead with cost cuts before making its next acquisition. The New York-listed company which is run out of the UK has suffered a precipitous 68 per cent decline in its share price since August, when it bought the continental European business of Findus for £500m. (The Financial Times £)
Arla Foods, the dairy co-operative behind Anchor butter and Lurpak spreads, has warned of an “unpredictable and tough” year ahead as dairy producers battle falling demand for milk from China, sanctions against Russia and increasing supply from Europe. (The Financial Times £)
Finally, as followed up by The Grocer today, Reuters writes that the owners of Britain’s Fox’s Biscuits are in early stage talks to sell the business to rival biscuit maker Burton’s, owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. (Reuters)