The future ownership of Argos-owner Home Retail may become clear today as would-be owners weigh up whether to proceed with bids.
However, the struggle for control for Home Retail could still drag on for several weeks following a Takeover Panel statement on the process.
Sainsbury’s chiefs believe a deal with Argos would allow the supermarkets group to create a food and general merchandise giant with the proposition and distribution capacity to take on Amazon.
Steinhoff bosses see Argos as a trophy in their drive to build an international retail empire encompassing homewares and electricals.
At present the two suitors of Argos have yet to fully reveal their hands.
Sainsbury’s originally unveiled a cash and shares proposal to take control of Argos but Steinhoff intervened with a higher all cash offer.
A deadline of today was set for the pair either to ‘put up or shut up’ by tabling formal offers.
However, the Takeover Panel has indicated that in the event either party does reveal its intention to make a firm offer, the other would be entitled under City rules to a 53-day period to decide how to proceed.
That would likely be a frustration to all parties, raising fears that chiefs of the companies may lose focus on running their core businesses as the deal diverts their attention.