Major UK retailers have shown interest in Iceland Foods

Major UK retailers have shown interest in Iceland Foods

The upcoming auction of UK retailer Iceland Foods has attracted "a lot of interest" from retailers, investors and its CEO, a source close to the situation has told just-food. 

Information on the sale of 77% of Iceland Foods will be sent out in the next few days. Failed Icelandic banks Landsbanki and Glitnir have put their respective 67% and 10% stakes in the frozen food retailer up for auction.

The source said: "There has clearly been a lot of interest in the auction from across the board, including rival retailers, private-equity firms and Malcolm Walker."

Walker, the founder and current CEO of Iceland Foods, has expressed his desire to buy the company on a number of occasions.

The source would not comment on the value of the stake. Numerous financial media and analysts have reported that the banks handling the sale are an eyeing a valuation of about GBP1.5bn (US$2.4bn).

They also confirmed that all of the UK's four major retailers – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons – will receive the sales information.

A spokesman from Glitnir said:"As a small minority owner, we will not comment further while the sales process is under way."

Analysts have put Morrisons forward as a front-runner in the race to buy Iceland and the UK's fourth-largest retailer has appointed Credit Suisse to advise it on any potential offer. Asda has also been named as a possible bidder.

Sainsbury's is known to be ready to be look at the possible stores on offer from the Iceland estate but is unlikely to make a bid for the entire business.

Tesco, the UK's largest retailer, would be precluded from buying Iceland on competition grounds but could look to buy individual stores.