Musgrave faces new rival for Londis after Lancelot makes 11th-hour bid

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The Independent Online

The battle for Londis, the convenience store chain, is set to intensify today when a consortium led by former T&S Stores directors launches a formal offer for the business.

The battle for Londis, the convenience store chain, is set to intensify today when a consortium led by former T&S Stores directors launches a formal offer for the business.

The move may thwart attempts by Londis's management to pursue an alternative offer from Musgrave, the Irish retailer that owns the Budgens grocery chain. Both groups say they value Londis at £60m, though the T&S group, operating in a consortium named Lancelot, is offering to buy only 40 per cent of the business.

Londis attempted to galvanise support for the Musgrave deal yesterday, saying it had won the backing of the chain store's vocal action groups, which have spoken up for the rights of Londis's shopkeepers during the past six months of negotiations over the future of the business.

Kishor Patel, the chairman of the Londis Shareholders Action Group, said: "We've come a long way since 8 December, when the sale was first announced. After much consultation, LSAG is satisfied Musgrave is formally committing to fulfilling all the points raised by LSAG."

Issues that have been settled to the action group's satisfaction include arrangements governing the prices Londis shopkeepers would have to pay the retailer for supplies, and what proportion of goods they would have to buy from Musgrave compared with rival suppliers.

However, the Musgrave offer, due to be put to Londis shopkeepers at an extraordinary meeting on 22 June, could be scuppered by the 11th-hour rival bid by Lancelot.

Geoff Purdy, the former T&S employee who is leading the bidding vehicle, complained that his team had not been given access to financial information by Londis's board. He said: "We have not been allowed to do due diligence. We can only assume Musgrave has come up with a fair valuation for the business."

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