Morrisons takeover puts Leahy in line for top spot

Sir Terry Leahy is tipped to return to British supermarkets after private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) won Morrisons in a last-minute auction.

The former Tesco boss will be appointed as chairman of the Big 4 grocer, according to Financial Times sources.

In 2011 he became an adviser to CD&R, which edged out rival Morrisons bidder Fortress by a penny with a 287p-a-share offer.

Commentators called the conclusion to the four-month battle “distinctly underwhelming”.

READ MORE: Morrisons to be run from Cayman Islands ‘tax haven’

One insider claimed there were “very strong indications” that Leahy would become chairman.

He added that it would “follow a similar model to B&M,” which the retail veteran chaired for five years after CD&R acquired a majority stake in 2012.

“I would expect him to be an involved non-executive chair,” another person said, noting that the buyout firm favoured boards made up of internal and external appointees.

Morrisons chief executive David Potts is expected to stay on to run the business day-to-day.

In its offer, which has yet to be confirmed by shareholders, CD&R stressed it was “committed to supporting the existing team”.

Potts worked with Leahy at Tesco, and said he was the closest thing he had to a mentor in a 2019 Times interview.

Morrisons’ current non-executives, including chairman Andrew Higginson and independent director Rooney Anand, will step down once the deal is completed later this month.

CD&R’s bid “represents excellent value for shareholders while… protecting the fundamental character of Morrisons for all stakeholders”, Higginson said.

He continued: “The Board is confident that Morrisons will continue to go from strength to strength under CD&R’s ownership.”

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