Bestway Group has acquired a 3.45 per cent stake in J Sainsbury (trading as Sainsbury’s), Britain’s second-largest grocer, but said it was not considering an offer for the latter.
The privately owned conglomerate said this in a short statement to the stock exchange and added that it “may look to make further market purchases of Sainsbury’s shares from time to time, subject to availability and price”.
It also said, “Bestway Group intends to hold its shares in Sainsbury’s for investment purposes and looks forward to supporting the executive management team.”
The purchase of shares is equivalent to nearly £200 million at Sainsbury’s closing price on Thursday (26).
The owner of the Costcutter chain, which is owned by the Pervez, Choudrey and Sheikh families and led by chief executive Zameer Choudrey, has investments in the UK, Pakistan, and the Middle East. It is known to be the seventh largest family-owned business in the UK with a turnover of about £4.5 billion.
The move will result in Bestway becoming the sixth largest shareholder in Sainsbury’s, The Guardian reported.
Independent retail analyst Maureen Hinton said Bestway’s stake could give it leverage in potential talks over the future of pharmacy outlets in Sainsbury’s after its partner LloydsPharmacy announced plans to shut all 237 outlets.
“[Bestway’s] Well Pharmacy business would be a possible replacement for the Lloyds pharmacy exit,” she tweeted.
Bestway Group has invested more than £800 million into the pharmacy sector and one of its key investments include acquisition of the Well Pharmacy (formerly Co-Operative Pharmacy) in 2014.
Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said it was not clear whether Bestway had “the aspirations or the resources” to bid for Sainsbury’s or it aimed to “collaborate with Sainsbury’s from a trading perspective” as a major grocery wholesaler and pharmacy business, The Guardian report added.
“We note the announcement made this morning by Bestway Group stating that it is not considering an offer for the company,” Sainsbury’s said, adding, “We will engage with Bestway Group in line with our normal interactions with shareholders”.
Bestway, which was founded in 1976, is chaired by the billionaire Sir Anwar Pervez. It also owns one of Pakistan’s largest banks and is the second biggest cement manufacturer in that country.