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Argos bidders gain reprieve from approaching deadline


Sainsbury’s and Steinhoff has been released from their impending standoff as the UK Takeover Panel granted them more time for their Argos bids.

One of Britain’s largest supermarket chains, Sainsbury’s expressed its interest in Home Retail Group, the owner of Argos, in November last year but had its claim rejected. Since then it re-worked its offer and, eventually bidding £1.3bn in February, only to be sniped by a surprise offer of £1.4bn from Steinhoff, the South African retail conglomerate.

Both companies were given until 5pm on 18 March to commit their final bids, with analysts predicting that each would wait as long as possible in order to deprive the competition of the chance to react, according to The Financial Times.

However, the UK Takeover Panel announced on Thursday that if one confirmed its bid on Friday, the other would be granted an automatic extension of 53 days to reply.

On Tuesday the supermarket published its first sales rise in more than two years, leading outsiders to predict that it would be able to raise its bid “without breaking a sweat”.

Whether or not this will translate into action before Friday’s deadline is debatable, but with Steinhoff currently the highest bidder it would seem that it is now up to Sainsbury’s to either continue to draw out proceedings, or abandon its pursuit of Argos.

Published on Thursday 17 March by Philip Gallagher

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