Sainsbury's gets clear run at bid for Argos
Sainsbury's, Britain's second biggest supermarket, has a clear run to buy Argos-owner Home Retail after rival suitor, the South African group Steinhoff International, withdrew from the process.
Under British takeover rules both companies had until 5pm yesterday to make a firm offer for Home Retail.
"Steinhoff now confirms that it does not intend to make an offer for Home Retail," the company said. Its statement came at the same time as Steinhoff's French unit Conforama agreed a deal to buy French electrical retailer Darty.
Shares in Home Retail had soared more than 80pc since news of a possible bid from Sainsbury's emerged on January 5.
But they were down 11pc at 162 pence each yesterday, valuing the business at £1.3bn (€1.7bn), after hopes of a bidding war slipped away.
Sainsbury's made a cash and shares proposal last month worth 173.2 pence at Sainsbury's closing share price on Thursday, slightly below Frankfurt-listed Steinhoff's later cash proposal of 175 pence.
Shares in Sainsbury's were down 3.6pc at 271.6 pence each heading into the close last night.
Sainsbury's has said it wants to buy Argos to accelerate growth by creating the UK's largest general retail business. (Reuters)