A US private equity firm has won the auction for British supermarket group Morrisons with a £7bn bid.
Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) bid 287 pence per share, representing a premium of approximately 61% on the closing price of the company before the offer period began.
Morrisons is Britain's fourth-biggest supermarket by market share, after market leader Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda.
Based in Bradford, the business began as an egg and butter merchant in 1899.
The battle for Morrisons is the most high-profile among a spate of bids for British companies this year, reflecting private equity's appetite for cash-generating assets.
The Takeover Panel, which governs the process for M&A deals in Britain, moved to an auction because neither bidder had declared their offers final.
The panel said the US firm outbid a consortium led by the Softbank owned Fortress Investment Group, which had offered 286 pence.
Morrisons' board has unanimously recommended that shareholders accept the new offer at their meeting on 19 October.
If shareholders approve the offer, CD&R could complete its takeover of Morrisons by the end of the month.
CD&R's bid team is spearheaded by former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy.
Sir Terry said: "We are gratified by the recommendation of the Morrisons Board and look forward to the shareholder vote to approve the transaction.
"We continue to believe that Morrisons is an excellent business, with a strong management team, a clear strategy, and good prospects," he added.
Joshua A. Pack, managing partner of Fortress, said: "Morrisons is an outstanding business and we wish the company and all those involved with it the very best for the future.
"The UK remains a very attractive investment environment from many perspectives, and we will continue to explore opportunities to help strong management teams grow their businesses and create long-term value."
Last month, Morrisons reported a 43% slump in half-year profits after COVID-19 costs took their toll and warned of price rises and product shortages amid current strains on supply chains.