Robert Tchenguiz and Apax, the private equity group, are believed to be at loggerheads over whether to sell Somerfield, the supermarket chain, which is up for auction but has attractedonly one bid. The Times

Sources close to the process say that Tchenguiz is keen to press ahead with the disposal because he is sitting on millions of pounds of losses from soured bets on J Sainsbury and Mitchells & Butlers.

Apax, which jointly owns the group alongside Barclays Capital, is prepared to put the sale on hold if it does not achieve a decent price for the group's 955 stores.

Price expectations are split, with Somerfield believed to be holding out for bids in the range of £2bn to £2.5bn. Bidders have said that the group is clinging to pre-credit crunch valuations and needs to lower its sights.