Wednesday 7 July 2021 10:00 am

Kwarteng to request meeting with Morrisons boss over buyout

Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng will request a meeting with the boss of Morrisons to seek reassurances over jobs, pensions and the supermarket’s operations ahead of a potential buyout.

Ministers will meet with executives at Morrisons ahead of a potential takeover by a consortium of funds headed by New York private equity house Fortress.

The meeting will be requested in the coming weeks, the FT first reported, and will centre on reassurances of a number of promises made by fortress.

In an interview with the FT, Kwarteng declined to comment on the meeting request, but he said was “monitoring the situation”.

“Morrisons is a historic brand name and [I am] very interested in seeing how the situation develops,” he said.

“We need to assess what’s going on before making rush judgements. You have to look at behaviour, specifics and track record and see that certain safeguards are kept.”

Fortress made a medley of promises as part of its £6.3bn bid for the supermarket giant, including recognising “the legacy of Sir Ken Morrison” as well as the firm’s culture.

Fortress, which has also invested in wine shop Majestic Wine, said existing employment rights, including the pension rights of Morrisons’ management and employees will be safeguarded, as well as the supermarket’s commitment to pay all employees at least £10 per hour.

Morrisons has accepted Fortress’ bid, but it will be up to shareholders if the takeover goes ahead.

Two other private equity names are in the mix for Morrisons, and it is thought other players, possibly even including e-commerce giant Amazon, could join the fray.