The billionaire brothers behind the blockbuster Asda takeover are reportedly in talks to sell their petrol forecourt business for some £12.bn.
Zuber and Mohsin Issa are thought to be considering a proposal for Boots, with the high street chemist’s US owners hoping for a £7bn price tag.
A sale of EG Group would unlock billions of pounds to aid a takeover bid, with the forecourt business valued at around $16bn (£12.7bn) including debt in takeover talks, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It was reported that the Issa brothers have been in talks with Canadian convenience store chain Couche-Tard for weeks about a possible merger. However, nothing has been set in stone yet and the talks could lead to nothing.
Couche-Tard, which boasts some 15,000 stores across the world, is understood to be hunting for a sale after the French government blocked its takeover of supermarket business Carrefour.
EG Group has enjoyed soaring profits, with underlying profits skyrocketing 16 per cent to $1.45bn last year.
The company owns the fast food chain Leon and bakery business Cooplands, with ambitious plans that will create some 22,700 jobs in the UK by the end of 2026.
Investment in EG Group’s food service arm, including forecourts and EG food service concessions at Asda sites, will help create a total of 32,000 jobs across the world over the next few years.
EG also owns hundreds of franchised KFC, Starbucks and Burger King outlets.
Walgreen Boots Alliance, the parent company of Boots, has reportedly set a deadline of 16 May for bids.
The deadline looms as an early frontrunner, a consortium involving private equity firms CVC and Bain, withdrew from takeover talks in March.
The pair of suitors were only willing to pay a price tag of £4bn for the chain, it had been reported.
Walgreens snapped up Boots in 2014 in an acquisition worth £9bn, but is now hoping to sell for £7bn after previously selling the company’s wholesale arm.
Private equity titan Apollo is also understood to be working with India’s second-richest man Mukesh Ambani to launch a bid, according to a report by the Financial Times.
The Issa brothers’ private equity firm TDR Capital took over supermarket Asda last year in a £6.8bn deal.
According to the Financial Times, TDR told investors it now valued its stake in the grocer at almost 20 times the price it paid for the grocer.
The US firm, alongside the Issa brothers, were reported to have used just a slim amount of their own funds in the £6.8bn deal, something which is atypical in these types of deals.