A BRADFORD MP has claimed he has been given assurances by Morrisons that two takeover bids by rival consortiums would keep the company headquarters in Bradford.

Last week, Morrisons agreed a £7 billion offer in the latest twist in the UK supermarket chain’s dramatic takeover battle.

Shares jumped the day after investors digested the new deal by US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R).

It comes weeks after a rival bidder, a consortium led by private equity rival Fortress, increased its offer to £6.7 billion in the hope this would help it secure a deal.

The Bradford-based retailer was founded by William Morrison in 1899 as an egg and butter stall in Rawson Market.

The supermarket group has been publicly owned since 1967 and Morrisons’ head office is based on Gain Lane, Bradford.

Shipley MP Philip Davies said: “Morrisons is not just a significant local brand, it is a national institution as well, and it is vital that any takeover is done for the right reasons to continue to build the business, and not for it to be asset stripped.

“I have been in contact with Morrisons over this and they have assured me that both of the bids have given assurances to the board about their motives to build the business and to keep the company HQ in Bradford which - of course - is vital.

“As someone who worked for ASDA for 12 years - when Morrisons were always our toughest competitors - I appreciate the importance of Morrisons both to the local economy but also to the national retail landscape.

“I was at ASDA when Wal-Mart bought us out and so I understand how unsettling all of this must be for the staff and hope that whatever deal is done it is in the best interests of the company, the employees and the customers”

Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East, said: “Morrisons is a proud Bradford institution that is integral to the heart of so many of our communities, particularly across the North of England and here in Bradford where their head office is based, and I am deeply concerned by the prospect of buyout by private equity firm backed by the cash of wealthy stockholders.

“Such firms are the very embodiment of aggressive vulture capitalism that has so often proven that they are not interested in catering to customers or building reputable brands, but are instead solely interested in pleasing their shareholders by carving up, asset-stripping and selling on British businesses for a quick buck.

“These firms have little place in our economy and so often put jobs at risk, and I am also deeply concerned about the potential for job losses here, not just in Morrisons’ supermarkets, but in its British supply chains and suppliers too.

“Ministers must make it clear that they will act to block any takeover deal that puts jobs at risk, and act to keep Morrisons in the hands of the people who built and those who rely upon it.”

Judith Cummins, MP for Bradford South, said: “Morrisons is a highly valued, much-loved Bradford business and a success story with deep roots right across our communities.

“I know that discussions between Morrisons, their staff and USDAW the trade union that represents so many of the workers are still ongoing.

“It is my view that these discussions with the workforce through USDAW should continue to enable the very best outcome for workers in Morrisons. Workers need reassurances regarding the future of their jobs and their terms and conditions including their pensions.

“I will continue to work with both Morrisons and USDAW to achieve the very best outcome possible for both staff and for Bradford. “ Morrisons chairman, Andy Higginson, said: “The Morrisons board believes that the offer from CD&R represents good value for shareholders while at the same time protecting the fundamental character of Morrisons for all stakeholders.

“CD&R have a strong record of developing, strengthening and growing the businesses that they invest in and they share our vision for Morrisons’ future.

“This, together with the strong set of intentions that they have set out today, gives the Morrisons board confidence that CD&R will be a responsible, thoughtful and careful owner of an important British grocery business.”