A private equity-backed consortium vying to buy Morrisons has increased its bid for the Bradford based supermarket chain to £6.7 billion amid speculation of a rival bid.
The consortium led by US private equity firm Fortress has increased its previous offer, which had been agreed by management at the retailer, by £400 million.
The bidder said it increased its offer amid "speculation regarding a possible counter-offer by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R)", a rival US private equity firm which saw a £5.5 billion approach rejected last month.
UK takeover regulators had given CD&R a deadline of Monday August 9th to either place its own firm bid for the chain or walk away.
It also comes after a string of Morrisons' investors - including largest shareholder Silchester - said they would not back the original 254p per share offer agreed.
The latest deal will value the company at 272p per share.
Shareholders will vote on the takeover offer at a general meeting on Monday August 16.
The bidder said the offer represents at 52% premium on the group's 178p per share price at the close before the first takeover proposal sparked surge in its valuation.
"Morrisons directors believe that the increased Fortress offer is in the best interests of Morrisons shareholders as a whole, and accordingly unanimously recommend that Morrisons shareholders vote in favour of the resolutions required to implement the increased Fortress offer," the company said in a stock market statement.
Shares in Morrisons lifted by 2% to 278p after Fortress announced the latest bid, suggesting that shareholders still believe a higher offer could be tabled.