Members are gearing up to vote on the proposed buyout of convenience chain Nisa by the Co-operative.
Shopkeeper members will vote tomorrow at about 11am in an emergency general meeting. Co-op needs 75 per cent of votes cast to approve for its bid of almost £140m.
It is expected that the vote will have a high turnout, and proxy votes have already been submitted.
Some members have voiced opposition to the takeover, with a group of dissidents this week accusing Nisa chairman Peter Hartley of "storming" out of an informal regional meeting ahead of the vote. However City A.M. understands that Hartley later came back in, and that all attendees were free to come and go.
Addressing possible opposition to the deal, a Nisa spokesperson said: “The Co-op offer of up to £137.5m is equivalent to about 20 times Nisa’s current share price of £135 per share."
“The Co-op’s offer is equitable and has something for everyone; every shareholder receives £20,000, plus £1,654 per share and then there is a one per cent additional rebate. Added to which Co-op brings seven times the buying power of Nisa, and is offering Nisa members the flexibility to trade as they wish and keep the Nisa name.”
Rumours that a counter-offer could be made by either Bestway or previous suitor Sainsbury's were put to bed as both retailers denied that they would consider an offer.
Other players in the convenience and wholesale sectors have been struggling due to factors such as high labour costs and losing trade to illicit tobacco sellers. A rescue effort is currently underway for wholesaler Palmer & Harvey, with McColl's co-founder James Lancaster rumoured to be leading the process.
Meanwhile big supermarkets have scrambled to enter the convenience and wholesale sectors following Tesco's proposed merger with Booker.