Morrisons tipped to beat EG in race to buy McColl’s
The convenience chain fell into administration on Friday, plunging the future of its 1,100 shops and 16,000 staff into doubt.
Sky News has reported that Morrisons is set to triumph following an offer which will protect all of McColl’s workforce.
Forecourt giant EG – whose owners also run supermarket giant Asda – had been favourites to complete a rescue deal for McColl’s over the weekend.
However, EG and Morrisons both tabled late improved offers before the administrators’ Sunday 6pm deadline for offers.
Morrisons’ early approaches had reportedly been rejected by lenders who preferred EG’s offer instantly to repay more than £160 million in debts from McColl’s.
However, it is understood that Morrisons’ successful move would also repay the lenders in cash.
Morrisons, EG Group and McColl’s have declined to comment.
Trustees for the McColl’s pension schemes called on the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to do whatever he can to ensure pension scheme members are well protected.
McColl’s filed a notice to appoint administrators from PwC on Friday, with the insolvency specialists expected to be formally appointed on Monday.
Morrisons is McColl’s wholesale supply partner and was expected immediately to terminate its deal with the convenience chain if its takeover move proved unsuccessful.
McColl’s also runs around 250 stores under the Morrisons Daily brand.
The deal comes less than a year after Morrisons itself was bought for £7 billion by US private equity company Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R).
The collapse of McColl’s has come after a financial struggle over the past two years as it witnessed soaring costs due to supply chain disruption, inflation and its large debt burden.
Shares in McColl’s were suspended last week after the company delayed the publication of its latest financial results due to its financing talks.
Last week, a spokesman for the trustee of the McColl’s pension schemes warned staff could miss out on payments following administration and urged any new owner to protect the schemes.
The spokesman said: “The pension schemes are significant stakeholders in the company, and the trustees call on all potential bidders to make clear that they will respect the pension promises made to the 2,000 members by McColl’s and its subsidiaries, and will not seek to break the link between the schemes and the company.”