Consortium behind Somerfield considers sale

By Sandrine Bradley

The consortium behind Somerfield is considering a sale of the supermarket chain following a number of unsolicited approaches.

The consortium comprising property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz, Apax and Barclays Capital have mandated Citi to advise it on a potential sale following these offers and non-disclosure documents have been sent out.

It is not clear who has approached the chain, although speculation suggests that a few of the larger stores, namely Asda, Sainsbury and Morrisons are interested in the smaller chain in an attempt to bulk up and compete against Tesco.

Somerfield was taken private in a £1.8bn deal at the end of 2005. Since it was taken private, it has sold nearly 600 of its stores in an attempt to slim down its portfolio, although last month chief executive Paul Mason did announce plans to increase the number of stores going forward.

Tchenguiz is thought to be particularly keen to sell his share in Somerfield after the failure to sell Sainsbury – in which he is heavily invested – to the Qataris last year.