LONDON— Apollo Global Management Inc. said Monday it is considering making a bid for U.K. grocery chain WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC, setting up a potential three-way bidding war with SoftBank Group Corp.’s Fortress Investment Group LLC and U.S. private-equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
New York-based Apollo said it hasn’t yet approached the board of the British grocer and there can be no certainty that any offer will be made.
The announcement came two days after a group of investors led by Fortress agreed to acquire Morrisons for more than $8.7 billion, a bet that the retailer can thrive in a hypercompetitive industry grappling with the shift to online commerce. New York-based Fortress has joined forces with Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board and the real-estate arm of Koch Industries, a private conglomerate headed by billionaire Charles Koch.
The U.K.’s fourth-largest grocery-chain operator had already last month rejected a £5.5 billion takeover proposal, equivalent to $7.6 billion, from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. The buyout firm has until July 17 to make a formal offer, and has said it was considering one.
Morrisons shares rose 11% Monday to £2.67, above the level of the Fortress-led bid, which is worth £2.54 a share, including a two-pence special dividend.