Fortress Investment Group’s bid, which is backed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Koch Real Estate Investments, exceeds the £ 5.52 billion bid from US private equity firm Clayton , Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), which Morrisons strongly rejected on June 19. saying it was way too low.
In a statement, Morrisons said: “Morrisons and Fortress place a very strong emphasis on the broader responsibilities of Morrisons ownership.
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“These responsibilities include recognizing the legacy of Sir Ken Morrison, the history and culture of Morrisons, and the important role Morrisons plays for all stakeholders, including colleagues, clients, members of the Morrisons pension schemes, local communities, supplier partners, UK agriculture and the UK general public.
“Fortress’s investment approach is to acquire companies with strong management teams and empower them to execute their long-term strategy. “
Fortress said they have experience investing in UK retail and food (including Majestic Wine) and 19 years of successful investing in the grocery and food industry. gas stations in the United States.
The Bradford-based grocer said: “Fortress intends Morrisons to continue to operate as a stand-alone business with its head office and headquarters functions remaining in Bradford, led by the Morrisons management team.
“Fortress is committed to being a good steward of Morrisons throughout the next stage of its evolution and will support Morrisons and its employees in executing management’s existing strategy, including: strong customer focus; a vertically integrated supply chain; targeted new store openings and job creation; and focus on wholesale and online channels.
“Fortress believes that Morrisons colleagues are its greatest asset and are critical to the future success of the Morrisons business.
“Fortress confirms that after the entry into force of the offer, existing labor rights, including the existing pension rights of Morrisons management and employees, will be fully protected.
“In particular, Fortress fully supports Morrisons’ recent salary award of at least £ 10 per hour for all Morrisons colleagues in stores and manufacturing sites, which Fortress sees as important and appropriate recognition of their contribution to Morrisons. Fortress does not intend to make any changes to the benefits provided by the Morrisons pension plans. “
Andy Higginson, Chairman of Morrisons, said, “The directors of Morrisons believe that the offer represents a fair and recommendable price to shareholders, which recognizes Morrisons’ future prospects.
“Morrisons is an exceptional company and our performance during the pandemic has further improved our position and allowed us to enter discussions with Fortress from a hard-won position of strength.
“We have taken a very careful look at Fortress’s approach, its plans for the business and its overall suitability as the owner of a single UK manufacturer and trader with over 110,000 colleagues and a significant role in food production and l British agriculture.
“It’s clear to us that Fortress has a full understanding and appreciation of the fundamental character of Morrisons. This, along with the very clear intentions they set out today, gave Morrisons directors confidence that Fortress will support and accelerate our development plans and further strengthen Morrisons.
“Fortress, CPP Investments and KREI all have strong backgrounds and a long-term approach to investing. They support our strategy, our management and our people.
“Morrisons has a rich history and unique culture and I have no doubts that with the long term support of Fortress, the business will continue to thrive in the future.
Under the terms of the deal, Morrisons shareholders will receive 254p per share, consisting of 252p in cash and a 2p cash dividend.
Morrisons said the offer represents a 42% premium over its closing price of 178p on June 18 – the last business day before CD & R’s proposal.
Morrisons shares closed at 243p on Friday, valuing the company at £ 5.8 billion.
Fortress is a global investment manager with approximately $ 53 billion in assets under management.
Morrisons said a first unsolicited proposal was received from Fortress on May 4 at 220 pence per share, which was not made public.
Fortress then made four subsequent offers before its bid reached a total value of 254p per share on June 5.