Marks & Spencer is thrashing out the terms of a £1.8bn tie-up with Ocado to belatedly launch a grocery delivery service, replacing the online firm’s current deal with Waitrose. Shares in both companies surged on Tuesday after they rushed out identical statements that confirmed they were in discussions over a deal in which M&S would buy a 50% stake in Ocado’s UK retail arm for up to £900m. M&S will pay between £800m and £900m to enable it to make a late entry into the UK’s £11.4bn online grocery shopping market. The current Ocado/Waitrose service has a customer base of 720,000 shoppers and the ambition would be to convert as many as possible to a new M&S branded food offer. News of a potential alliance leaked in January but neither business would comment on the reports. However, their hand was forced when fresh details of the plan emerged. At the top end the proposed deal, which could be finalised as soon as Wednesday, Ocado’s UK delivery business would be valued at up to £1.8bn. After nearly a decade as an unloved listed company, Ocado enjoyed a second coming last year after plans to sell its grocery-picking technology to other retailers… Read full this story
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