Icelandic investor Baugur is likely to make a fresh approach to UK supermarket chain Somerfield Plc, according to a report carried by the Reuters news agency which quoted “a source with insight into the situation.”
But this may not mean a higher price or a formal conditional offer, Reuters said. Somerfield last week turned down an offer from Baugur. Reuters’ source said Baugur was likely to return with greater assurances — not necessarily a higher price — on its potential £1.03bn (US$1.97bn) bid, although this would not necessarily take the form of a full and binding conditional offer.
“It’s more than 50-50 that they will proceed in some way. It probably won’t be today or tomorrow, but it could easily be next week. There are probably other ways to go to achieve an understanding than a full offer,” the source said. “I’ve seen firmer rebuttals than the one Somerfield gave. The wording of the statement didn’t seem to turn them down on price and gave some hope an agreement could be reached.”
“How much certainty you can give at this stage?” the source said. “Baugur thought they had provided enough of an assurance they would come up with an offer.”
Reuters also quoted a “source close to the matter,” who said the ball was now firmly in Baugur’s court and that the Somerfield board had been at pains not to frighten the Icelandic investor off.
“The board didn’t express a view on the price, although the market did — the share is still higher than it would have been if the market recognised a 190 pence exit price.
“There is such a thing as a conditional offer, and this wasn’t one. If that’s not there, there’s nothing for the shareholders to take a view on. The situation remains fluid,” the source said.