• Sainsbury’s put-up-or-shut-up deadline for Home Retail Group bid extended
  • Grocer now has until March 18 to make a firm offer for the Argos owner
  • Date is the same cutoff given to rival bidder Steinhoff
  • Christo Wiese-backed retailer made eleventh-hour offer of £1.4bn on Friday

Sainsbury’s has been granted an extension to its looming deadline to table a firm bid for Home Retail Group, which owns Argos.

Previously the grocer had been handed a put-up-or-shut-up cutoff of 5pm tomorrow to make an offer for the business, which has since been the subject of a rival eleventh-hour bid from Steinhoff.

But days after Steinhoff’s interest was revealed, Home Retail Group requested that the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers extended Sainsbury’s deadline. The grocer will now have until March 18 to make a formal bid for the retailer. 

It comes hours after Retail Week reported that Sainsbury’s was poised to seek an extension to the deadline, following Steinhoff’s shock bid for the retailer.

Sainsbury’s had previously agreed terms on a cash plus shares deal, which valued Home Retail Group at £1.3bn. The deal was worth 161.3p per share, comprising 55p cash and 0.321 new Sainsbury’s shares.

But Steinhoff, in which billionaire retail tycoon and New Look owner Christo Wiese is an investor, swooped in with a bid on Friday, worth 175p per share.

The all-cash offer trumps Sainsbury’s bid, valuing the business at £1.4bn.

Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe, who unveiled a detailed 22-page presentation earlier this month outlining his vision for Argos should the acquisition go ahead, has vowed that the grocer will not pay over the odds for the business.

But he has refused to throw in the towel and was locked in talks with his senior management team over the weekend as the board thrashed out its next move.

It could have tabled a higher bid or walked away from the deal completely in light of Steinhoff’s approach, but has instead asked for more time to consider its options.

Home Retail Group’s shares surged 12% since Steinhoff’s rival offer was tabled on Friday.