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US-Based Fortress Investment Group buys British Supermarket Chain Wm Morison

Fortress Investment Group deal with Wm Morison will be the leading takeover of a UK retailer since the credit crunch, adding to the rush of consolidation in the sector that has involved Walmart Inc. acquiring Asda and Carrefour SA’s move to buy up Home Retail Group. “Over the years, our team was satisfied with Wm Morrison Supermarkets’ strong operating performance and its commitment to returning value to shareholders,” said Bruce Flatt, Chief Executive of Fortress Investment Group.

“We are pleased to be partnering with management to realize the significant opportunities for value creation within the UK grocery market.” Founded in 1969 as a cash and carry business, Wm Morrison has made annual payments to investors every year since then, according to the Financial Times. Wm Morrison, the British supermarket chain, is selling to a group led by U.S. private equity firm Fortress Investment Group (New York), people familiar with the situation said.

The deal could mark a shift toward takeover activity in Britain’s grocery market after Tesco was forced to accept a takeover by U.S. giant Kroger in January, as its financial troubles mounted. Morrisons announced the talks with Morrison Group to acquire the company on Friday but didn’t release further details. The New York Group has stakes in companies such as Toys R Us and BCA Marketplace, will make the takeover offer. UK grocery chain Morrison Supermarkets (LSE: MRW) said on Friday that it has agreed to be acquired by US-based buyout firm Fortress Investment Group (FIG) for £6.3 billion ($8.9 billion) through a share-for-share deal.

The other bidders appear to be keeping their powder dry, Numis said in a note, noting that while Wm Morrisons has attracted interest, there are likely to be no additional bids. Last November, Wm Morrison rejected a takeover bid from Tesco, saying at the time that it was “unsolicited, over-competitive and deeply disappointing.” To learn more visit: here.