Somerfield said yesterday that it was still on the auction block as it announced a deal to sell seven supermarkets to Tesco for an estimated £100m. Financial Times

The Tesco deal had been under discussion for some time and it is not thought to affect shareholders’ plans to sell the UK’s fifth-largest supermarket chain as a block of 900 stores rather than in smaller chunks, according to people familiar with the matter.

Somerfield, owned by a consortium including Apax, Barclays Capital, Robert Tchenguiz and Kaupthing bank, has been on the block since July but there has been little competitive tension within the auction. It is understood there has only been one offer, from Co-op, even after pushing back the deadline from mid-March to after Easter in the hope of a last-minute approach.

It is thought Co-op has put in an offer of £1.7bn-£1.8bn.