Prospective bidders for Boots have been given until the end of the month to place first-round bids in the £7bn battle shaping up for the health and beauty retailer.

With the new owners of Asda, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s and a number of the world’s largest private equity firms all reportedly eyeing a bid for Boots, the retailer’s boss Seb James met with prospective bidders last week, according to The Times

James, alongside advisers from Goldman Sachs, touted the opportunity for Boots to offer more health services alongside an improved beauty range. 

Boots was acquired by American giant Walgreens in two stages during the 2010s to form the Walgreen Boots Alliance. 

The Times reported that while Sainsbury’s can see synergies between it and Boots’ overlapping consumer bases, it would be unwilling to see another merger deal run afoul of the Competition and Markets Authority.

The Issa brothers and TDR Capital, who completed their acquisition of Asda last year, are reportedly keeping a keen eye on proceedings and will likely lodge a bid. 

Private equity firms CVC and Bain are considered the favourites to acquire Boots, having joined forces on a partnership with a bid in mind.