The Co-operative group has begun talks negotiations in order to seal the acquisition of UK convenience store chain Nisa.
It is believed that the company is planning to launch a £140m for ownership of the wholesale business that supplies thousands of Nisa stores.
Previously, Sainsburys had been considered the favourite to purchase Nisa, with the supermarket reportedly planning their own bid, but the Co-op has since overtaken Sainsbury’s in the race to secure ownership of the convenience stores.
Peter Hartley, chairman of Nisa, have said that “positive” talks have been held with the Co-op over the sale, adding that Nisa “continue to evolve at pace”.
This planned deal comes in the wake of Tesco’s attempts to acquire wholesaler Booker, with this £3.7bn deal being investigated by competition regulators, which is rumoured to be the reason Sainsbury’s attempts to purchase Nisa were shelved.
The Co-op have said that the agreed period of exclusivity would allow the group to carry out further investigation and perform due diligence before making a bid.
“Following this period and subject to approval from our board, we hope to be in a position where we can put forward an offer to Nisa members,” a Co-op spokesman said.
Mr Hartley told the Nisa members: “The board of Nisa has held a number of positive discussions with the Co-op in recent weeks, following its reaffirmation of interest in making an offer for your company.
“Should an offer of merit emerge from this process, it will be for you, the members, to decide on whether to accept it.”
Should the deal go ahead, the stores will still be run by Nisa’s members, but the buying and distributing of groceries would be handled by the Co-op.