Morrisons has remained silent on reports it is preparing a GBP1bn (US$1.53bn) takeover bid for online retailer Ocado.

The company, which entered into a co-operation agreement with the online grocer last month, declined to comment on “market rumour”.

A report in the UK today (24 April) said there were “rumours” the Morrisons board had decided to launch a GBP1bn offer for Ocado.

Last month, Morrisons and Ocado confirmed they were in talks that could help the UK’s fourth-largest grocer launch its online food service.

The talks, Morrisons said at the time, were about plans to “licence certain of Ocado’s intellectual property and operating knowledge”.

Unlike its major rivals, the UK’s fourth-largest retailer does not sell food online but last month announced plans to set up the service next year.

Morrisons said a deal with Ocado could form “part of the implementation of the strategy to entering that market”. It added: “Morrisons decision to enter the online grocery market is not dependent on the outcome of these discussions. There is no certainty that an agreement will be reached.”

A spokesperson told just-food today the company’s newly-launched strategy to expand online “is still on track” and added: “Nothing very much has changed.”