Co-op Group re-enters talks with Nisa after Sainsbury’s pauses takeover plan

The supermarket giant had emerged as preferred bidder but put talks on hold over concerns about the competition watchdog

The Co-op Group is back in talks with retail mutual Nisa after a takeover bid for the convenience chain by Sainsbury’s stalled, according to press reports.

The Group was revealed last month to be in a bidding war with Sainsbury’s for Nisa, with the supermarket giant offering more cash upfront and emerging as the preferred bidder.

This is said to have caused concern among Nisa’s shopkeepers, who fear a takeover by Sainsbury’s could lead to demutualisation. The Co-op Group is seen as a better fit with Nisa’s mutual structure.

Sainsbury’s entered a period of exclusivity in talks with Nisa but this has ended and it has yet to make a formal offer, which would need 50% approval from Nisa’s shopkeeper members.

A deal from Sainsbury’s is not off the table, reports add, but the supermarket is concerned over possible intervention from the competition watchdog and has put talks on hold.

Last month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced an in-depth probe into Tesco’s takeover of grocery wholesaler Booker, and Sainsbury’s is awaiting the outcome to see if it would face similar problems.

Following this, say reports, Nisa indicated to its owner members that a third party, believed to be the Co-op Group, had renewed interest in the company.

The latest development comes after the Co-op lost out to Morrisons in a bid to supply products to convenience chain McColl’s.

Nisa, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op Group all declined to comment.

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