A consortium backed by the billionaire Issa brothers is reportedly considering dropping out of the bidding for the Boots chemist chain.
Bloomberg cited people with knowledge of the matter as saying there have been disagreements over the price.
The Issas, who were bidding together with TDR Capital, were understood to have balked at a request by Boots owner Walgreens to increase their offer for the chain and are now thinking about walking away. According to Bloomberg, the situation is fluid, and the investor group could still re-enter the race if it can reach a compromise on price with Walgreens.
The US company has been seeking a valuation of about £7bn for Boots, though bidders had pegged its worth at around £5bn, Bloomberg said.
In auction situations, potential buyers sometimes walk away from the negotiating table to gain a tactical advantage. The Issa-TDR group had been one of the two main suitors remaining in the contest. They were bidding for Boots through British supermarket chain Asda, which they jointly own.
A consortium of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries and Apollo Global Management is the other serious party left in the race. According to Bloomberg, that group was still working to line up financing in recent days and hadn’t yet submitted a second round offer.
Sycamore Partners was also understood to have expressed interest in Boots earlier in the race.