SPECULATION is mounting that Leeds-based supermarket chain Asda has abandoned plans to bid for the whole of Iceland Foods.
According to reports, Asda may be considering joining forces with private equity firms Bain Capital and BC Partners to buy dozens of Iceland supermarkets instead.
The reports suggested that Asda was dropping plans to buy all of Iceland’s stores because of competition issues.
An Asda spokesman said yesterday: “We never comment on market speculation.”
Media speculation has linked Asda with a possible bid for Iceland for several months.
In November, there were reports that Asda had teamed up with Scottish frozen food supermarket chain Farmfoods to make a £1.4bn bid for Iceland Foods.
At the time, Asda, which declined to comment on the report, was understood to be competing against Bradford-based Morrisons and four private equity firms. Morrisons also refused to comment.
Iceland Foods was founded in 1970 by entrepreneur Malcolm Walker, who was born in Grange Moor, West Yorkshire.
Mr Walker, who is the company’s chief executive, has a 23 per cent stake in Iceland along with other managers.
It is understood that Mr Walker is thinking about bidding for the company later in the process, with backing from pension funds and sovereign wealth.
He has a tactical advantage over his rivals because he has the right to match any offer for Ice- land.
Mr Walker’s £1bn offer for Iceland was rejected in 2010.