Somerfield has accepted in principle a £1.08bn takeover bid from the Violet Acquisitions consortium, led by private equity group Apax Partners.

The consortium, which also includes Barclays Capital and property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz, has made an indicative all-cash offer of 197p a share, which has been agreed by the Somerfield board. It is now up to shareholders to accept or reject the takeover. The offer came in on October 14, the last day of the ‘put up or shut up’ deadline imposed by the Takeover Panel for potential Somerfield suitors.

Somerfield operates about 1,300 stores under the Somerfield and Kwik Save brands and has been an attractive target because of its large property portfolio and good cash flow. The takeover battle had involved a number of other parties at various times including London & Regional Properties and United Co-operatives, which were looking at taking over 500 Somerfield stores.

The Violet group stated at the weekend it is prepared to slash retail prices to make Somerfield more competitive, and has earmarked £300m to improve the chain’s ranges and stores.

* Somerfield was scheduled to begin proceedings against the Competition Commission through the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) this week. The supermarket chain is protesting against the conditions imposed by the Commission on the acquisition of a group of stores from Morrisons, most notably that it must sell 12 outlets to approved purchasers.

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