Morrisons bidder plans to control supermarket from Cayman Islands – Telegraph.co.uk

Asda, which was acquired last year in a private equity deal led by the Blackburn-based petrol station billionaires the Issa Brothers, is also owned offshore through a vehicle based in Jersey.

Darren Jones, a Labour MP who chairs the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: “The idea that private equity can just sweep in, buy up British businesses and then move them off-shore to reduce the amount of tax they pay, without any rules or regulatory interventions, is just madness and an insult to British taxpayers.”

The documents for the bid also showed that CD&R could abandon the takeover if the UK’s competition regulator referred the deal for an in-depth “phase two” investigation.

CD&R said it would look to combine its 918 Motor Fuel Group sites with the 339 owned by Morrisons, opening Morrisons convenience stores on the sites. Such a move could potentially face scrutiny from the Competition and Markets Authority.

Meanwhile the buyout firm again insisted it did not intend to offload a “material” chunk of Morrisons’ freeholds. However, these pledges are non-binding.

Similar to Fortress, CD&R said it would embark on a review of the supermarket chain within months, including Morrisons’ property portfolio. Morrisons has 497 stores, of which 86pc are freeholds, 20 manufacturing and packing sites and 9 distribution centres.

Last month, pension trustees warned the bidders that the proposed debt-fuelled buyouts would “materially weaken” Morrisons’ ability to support the retirements of 85,000 current and former workers.

The board of Morrisons switched sides at the end of August and recommended investors back the CD&R bid. The directors had previously favoured a £6.7bn offer from Fortress. Both suitors are expected to borrow heavily against Morrisons to fund an acquisition.

Morrisons declined to comment. 

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