Morrisons founding family to take supermarket private?

Morrisons sales slump by 21.4\%

The founding family behind supermarket chain Morrisons is thought to be considering selling its stake in the retailer to a private equity firm, it emerged this morning.

And Morrisons shares have already jumped by more than 5% as a result of the rumours.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

The story first broke on news service Bloomberg, which reported this morning that the Morrison family, which still holds between 9% and 10% of the company, had contacted private equity firms including CVC Capital Partners and the Carlyle Group to gauge their interest in a buyout.

It comes after a difficult period for the retailer, whose shares suffered last month after it revealed that sales had suffered over a "very challenging" Christmas period.

Chief executive Dalton Philips told Sky News: "In a very tough market, our sales performance over Christmas was disappointing."

Market watchers believe that the founding family's interest in a potential buyout, which would be valued at more than £7bn, could be a response to this.

"With Morrison in such a distressed position, it's not a surprise that some may be assessing an alternate route for the company," said Andrew Gwynn, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas.

"In the past however, the family has been extremely conservative, so going down the private-equity route would be a fairly major departure from that."

And investors certainly seem to think its a definite possibility - even though the Bloomberg story comes from an un-named source.

Despite Morrisons refusing to confirm the rumours at this stage, shares in the supermarket chain have shot up by some 5.4% in just a few hours, while the buzz also boosted Tesco and Sainsbury's stock.

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Morrisons founding family to take supermarket private?

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