A shortage of buyers in any market is a magnet for private equity. There were competing buyout bids for Walmart Inc.’s sale of a majority stake in U.K. grocer Asda. Trustbusters had already vetoed a domestic merger. One of the failed bidders, Apollo Global Management Inc., was simultaneously trying to buy listed bookmaker William Hill Plc, which has since agreed to a takeover by joint venture partner Caesars Entertainment Inc.
There’s a perception British takeover regulations hamper so-called take-private deals. Reforms were introduced in 2011 following Cadbury’s controversial purchase by what’s now Mondelez International Inc. Any leak of an approach requires the target to name the suitor, who must then formalize an offer within 28 days or walk away.
Private equity firms don’t like the idea that their tentative prospects could be made public given so many talks fail. The timetable is also tight for negotiating a price, conducting due