Sainsbury's has refused to be drawn on UK reports that its founding family has rejected an improved GBP10.1bn (US$19.9bn) for the company.

The retail giant declined to comment on reports that the Sainsbury's family rebuffed an offer from a consortium led by private equity group CVC.

According to the reports today (10 April), sources close to the situation said the consortium had increased its offer to 582 pence a share, up 3.6% from its previous proposal of 562 pence a share.

However, it has been reported that the Sainsbury's family, which owns about 18% of the supermarket group, has indicated that it will not accept an offer of less than 600 pence per share. 

Speaking to just-food, Sainsbury's and the private equity firms in the consortium reiterated their desire for negotiations to be conducted behind closed doors.

"While we are in ongoing contact with private equity groups, we do not comment on market rumours and speculation," a representative of the retailer said. "Every option is being investigated with the best interests of our shareholders and customers in mind."

Sainsbury's shares, which have soared since the beginning of February when private equity groups first signalled their interest in a buyout, dropped 4.55% as just-food went to press to GBP535.50, as the market reacted to suggestions that the private equity syndicate was falling apart. 

One source said buyout group Texas Pacific had pulled out of the consortium, while another indicated that Blackstone had left the syndicate.

Sainsbury's, the family and the bidding consortium all declined to comment further.