Marks & Spencer could be the latest supermarket to be snatched up by private equity as a New York giant mulls a buyout.
Apollo, which fell short in its bid for Asda last year, apparently considers the retailer a bargain with undervalued shares.
According to The Sunday Times, it also believes the market has underestimated its joint delivery venture with Ocado.
However, it is not clear whether the recent 28 per cent surge in Marks & Spencer shares has dampened Apollo’s appetite.
Despite its lack of big purchases, the private equity firm is seen as a major player in the grocery sector.
After losing out on Asda to the Issa brothers and TDR Capital, it attempted to join Fortress’ unsuccessful bid for Morrisons this summer.
In June, Apollo was said to be considering a buyout of Sainsbury’s, although this failed to materialise.
Marks & Spencer is sitting on £2 billion of property – a major consideration for buyout firms, which can extract value through sale-and-leaseback deals.
However, much of this is located on high streets where footfall is in decline.