The battle by MFG’s owner Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) to takeover Morrisons may be decided by an auction.

The attempt to take over the supermarket group started in June when CD&R made a £5.5bn offer for the business which was rejected.

This was followed by a bid led by CD&R’s fellow US private equity group Fortress, which was subsequently upped to £6.7bn and supported by Morrison’s board.

However, that offer was trumped on August 20 by a £7bn bid from CD&R. It won the support of the Morrisons board, but Fortress urged Morrisons shareholders to take no action, suggesting that it might comeback with an improved offer.

In a new twist Morrisons announced on Wednesday September 8 that it was in talks with the two US private equity suitors and the Takeover Panel, which governs takeover deals, regarding an auction procedure.

Morrisons said any auction process would be followed by shareholder meetings to vote on the offer, or offers, on the table.

The company’s board would be expected to recommend one bid.

Morrisons said it expected a scheme document on CD&R’s offer to be posted to shareholders around 25 September.

It was for the Panel to announce dates for any auction, the company added, though it expected an investor vote to take place on a date in or around the week beginning 18 October.