The £7bn takeover of Morrisons by private equity giant Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) has been given the go-ahead by shareholders.
The Bradford -based supermarket chain agreed the deal at the start of this month after a lengthy auction.
On Tuesday, Morrisons held a general meeting with investors to seek approval for the move. The retailer confirmed that 99.2% of the shareholder vote was in favour of the takeover.
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Morrisons chair Andrew Higginson said: “We thank shareholders for the strong support received at today’s meetings.
“We remain confident that CD&R will be a responsible, thoughtful and careful owner of Morrisons and we will now move forward with the remaining steps in the acquisition process.”
The vote has sealed the future of the supermarket group after a lengthy bidding war to take control.
On October 2, CD&R’s 287p per share offer just usurped a rival bid, from a consortium led by US private equity rival Fortress, worth 286p per share.
The takeover saga had dragged on since CD&R first made an approach for the grocer back in June, leading to speculation the sector was ripe for private equity takeovers.
Following the initial bid, rival Softbank-backed Fortress made an offer of £6.3bn in July.
But shareholders felt this was too low and Fortress, which owns Majestic Wines, returned with an increased offer of £6.7bn in August, which the board accepted.
Later that month, CD&R – which boasts former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy as an adviser – returned with an increased bid of £7bn.
On Tuesday, Sir Terry said: “We are very pleased to have received the approval of shareholders and are excited at the opportunity that lies ahead.
“The particular heritage, culture and operating model of Morrisons are key features of the company and we will be very mindful of these during our tenure as owners.
“We very much look forward to working with the Morrisons team, not just to preserve the company’s many strengths – but to build on these, with innovation, capital and new technology – helping the business realise its full potential and delivering for all of its stakeholders.”
After CD&R’s higher bid, the board withdrew its support for the Fortress package and threw its weight behind the higher offer.
But because neither side made a formal bid, the Takeover Panel launched the auction process.
Sir Terry is widely expected to be appointed as chair of the supermarket group now the takeover is taking place.