Singapore Wealth Fund Joins Fortress’s Bid for Morrison
(Bloomberg) -- Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund is joining Fortress Investment Group’s 6.3 billion-pound ($8.8 billion) bid for Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc as the battle for Britain’s fourth-largest grocer heats up.
Cambourne Life Investment Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of GIC, will join Fortress as co-investor alongside America’s billionaire Koch family and the Toronto-based Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, according to a statement on Wednesday.
GIC is already a small investor in Morrison. It will purchase a 3% stake for 100 million pounds ($139 million) to help finance what could be Britain’s largest take-private deal in a decade. About 51% of the roughly 3 billion pounds of equity needed to fund the takeover will come from Fortress with CPP providing 31% and the real estate arm of Koch Industries providing 15%.
HSBC Holdings Plc and Royal Bank of Canada are providing debt funding. Apollo Global Management Inc., another private equity group, said last week it was considering joining forces with Fortress, meaning there could potentially be a fifth equity investor in the consortium.
The move by GIC comes just a day after Morrison’s largest shareholder, Silchester International, voiced opposition to Fortress’s offer of 254 pence-a-share, including a dividend. Silchester objects to the structure of the takeover and the timetable for completion which it said has given “insufficient opportunity for competing bids to emerge.”
Morrison shares were little changed at 266 pence a share, higher than Fortress’s offer.
GIC’s decision to back the Fortress bid will put pressure on private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC, whose 230 pence-per-share bid was previously rejected by Morrison. CD&R is still assessing whether to come back with a higher offer. The private equity group, whose bid is being led by Terry Leahy, a former chief executive officer of Britain’s largest grocer Tesco Plc, is speaking with some of the investors in its funds - known as limited partners - on a fresh bid, according to people close to the situation.
Under British takeover rules, CD&R has until Aug. 9 to decide whether to make a counteroffer. A shareholder vote on the Fortress bid is set for Aug. 16
Morrison is attracting interest as it owns about 90% of its almost 500 stores, as well as manufacturing sites. The property portfolio was last valued at about 6 billion pounds.
The business, whose turnaround has been led by Chief Executive Officer Dave Potts, generates large amounts of cash and its finances are solid with low underlying debt and a pension surplus. The fortunes of leading supermarket chains are also improving after lockdowns triggered a surge in grocery spending, particularly online.
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