Indicative offer price was too low, but Apax may not have given up yet
Woolworths' board has rejected an indicative proposal from Apax Partners to buy the retailer at 50p to 55p a share on the grounds that it did not reflect the true value of the company. The offer would value the company at£789 million. This proposal was subject to a number of pre-conditions, including access to the retailer's financial and trading information.

A statement from the retailer said: 'The board has considered this indicative proposal carefully. It has concluded that the range indicated does not provide acceptable value or certainty to justify entering into detailed discussions with Apax.'

However, it is understood that while Apax is unwilling to undertake a hostile bid for Woolworths, it is seeking support from key shareholders before considering launching another offer.

Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner said Apax's offer was at least 5p a share too low for the board to consider. He said: '50p to 55p was below our expected price of 60p, at which we think the board would have opened the books.'