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Morrisons reassures UK farmers over £6.3bn takeover

Farmers have raised concerns over whether a future owner of Morrisons would stand by its payment practices and relationships with food producers.

Morrisons has reportedly reassured its 3,000 farmer suppliers that private equity firm Fortress would be ‘a suitable and responsible owner’.

It was reported earlier this month that Morrisons had given the green light to the multi-billion-pound takeover deal led by US investment firm Fortress, which controls Majestic Wine. The deal is subject to shareholder approval.

In a letter seen by The Guardian and The Sunday Telegraph, Morrisons’ chief executive Doug Potts wrote: ‘Throughout our discussions with Fortress, we considered very carefully whether Fortress would be a suitable and appropriate owner of Morrisons and whether their plans for the business would protect and develop the fundamental character of Morrisons for the benefit of all stakeholders.

‘And that of course includes the farmers we work with and British agriculture more widely.’

Mr Potts added that Morrisons was ‘proud to have championed British farmers’ for generations and this ‘will not change under new ownership’.

NFU president Minette Batters was quoted as saying it was “encouraging” that Fortress had “committed to continue with Morrisons’ strategic intentions to support British farmers and work with them to deliver on the business’s environmental commitments.”

She added: “Sourcing from British farms has long been part of Morrisons’ heritage and it is reassuring that the potential buyer wishes to continue to upload these core values going forward.”

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