A UK trade union has urged the country’s government to block any bid for Sainsbury’s from the Qatar-backed investment fund circling the retailer.
“How on earth can it be in Britain’s interest to allow Sainsbury’s to become the nationalised property of a Gulf state?” said Brian Revell, T&G section of Unite national organiser for food and agriculture.
“It is also probable that the new owners will seek to split the property from the retail business. This will lead to higher prices and a less competitive Sainsbury’s.”
T&G, which represents over 20,000 Sainsbury’s workers, stated its position after Delta Two shed more light on its plan to buy Sainsbury’s, the UK’s third-largest retailer.
Delta Two said yesterday evening that it had made a “comprehensive and detailed proposal” to the Sainsbury’s board, which outlined a potential bid worth GBP6 a share, or GBP10.6bn (US$21.8bn).
Delta insisted it had yet to decide whether to launch a formal bid for Sainsbury’s. However, the fund said it would fund the offer with an investment of GBP4.6bn in equity and shares. It plans to fund the balance through securing debt finance of some GBP6bn.
Delta insisted it would spend a further GBP3.5bn over the next five years to fund store expansion, refurbishment and to extend Sainsbury’s no-food business.
The fund, headed by Paul Taylor, is believed to have had discussions with Sainsbury’s chairman Philip Hampton about its proposals.
Taylor is also said to have met the Sainsbury family, which owns 18% of the retailer, in Sardinia to discuss its plans. In April, the Sainsbury family rebuffed plans by a private equity consortium led by CVC to buy the retailer.
There has been speculation that Delta would look to offload some of Sainsbury’s lucrative property assets, a strategy that fellow Sainsbury’s shareholder Robert Tchenguiz is believed to favour, but one which the Sainsbury family opposes.
However, Delta is believed to be unlikely to spin off the retailer’s property assets. Taylor said: “Our proposal is focused on growth, not retrenchment. It is backed by a shareholder with the resources and commitment to continue to improve Sainsbury’s market position in the UK with its reputation for quality and innovative food at competitive prices.”