Morrisons shareholders could give their seal of approval to a £7 billion takeover bid on October 19.
However, with a rival buyer in the mix, the Takeover Panel could step in and require an auction to take place.
The supermarket said earlier this month that it was discussing “an orderly framework for the resolution of this competitive situation” with the bidders and Panel.
“A formal announcement relating to any auction procedure will be made by the Panel in due course if the competitive situation continues,” it continued.
If the October vote goes ahead, it will mark the first time the shareholders have had a say in the four-month battle for the grocer.
A vote on an offer by private equity firm Fortress was scheduled for August 16.
However, it was shunted back to August 27 in anticipation of a higher bid by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R).
When that 285p-a-share bid materialised, the Morrisons board switched its recommendation to CD&R.
Despite not voting on the deals, major investors have spoken out through the media and influenced the bidding process.
Some, including Morrisons’ largest shareholder Silchester International, said they would not accept Fortress’ initial 252p-a-share offer.
The buyout firm then increased this to 272p-a-share, believing their proposal would not gain the support of the 75 per cent of investors it needed for approval.
If the auction takes place, Morrisons’ board will recommend an offer which shareholders then vote on.
It comes after news that CD&R planned to operate the Bradford-based grocer from a Cayman Islands tax haven.
The move was branded “madness” and “an insult to British taxpayers” by chairman of the MPs’ business committee Darren Jones.
Morrisons shares opened at 292p today.