US private equity firm Apollo Global Management said on Tuesday that it is in provisional talks to join a consortium takeover bid for Britain’s fourth biggest supermarket Morrisons.

Apollo added in a statement that it has also decided not to make its own independent offer for the UK grocery chain.

Morrisons had earlier this month accepted a £9.5 billion (€11bn) bid – including £3.2 billion in debt – from investment groups comprising Softbank-backed Fortress, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Koch Real Estate.

Morrisons had earlier this month accepted a £9.5bn (€11bn) bid – including £3.2bn in debt – from investment groups comprising Softbank-backed Fortress, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Koch Real Estate

“Apollo Global Management Inc. confirms that it is in the preliminary stages of discussions with Fortress Investment Group... regarding the recommended offer,” Apollo said. The discussions “may result in funds managed or advised by Apollo forming part of the investment group led by Fortress for the purposes of the Fortress offer”.

“As a consequence of these discussions, Apollo confirms that it does not intend to make an offer for Morrisons other than as part of the Fortress offer.”

Morrisons is Britain’s fourth biggest supermarket chain in terms of sales, according to data group Kantar.

Trailing leader Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, it nevertheless has almost 500 stores and more than 110,000 employees in the UK.

Britain’s supermarket sector has benefitted hugely from a shift to online shopping during the pandemic, although it has faced hefty extra costs as a result.

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