Private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) has pulled out of the consortium interested in bidding for supermarket group Sainsbury's.
Sainsburys saw strong results for the first three months of 2007
The group, which has been given until April 13 to make an offer by the UK's takeover watchdog, now includes CVC, Blackstone and Texas Pacific.
KKR's decision to withdraw came after "careful consideration," it said.
The private equity firm has also launched a £10bn bid for the UK's larget pharmacy firm, Alliance Boots.
The market is expecting between 550 pence to 600 pence per share in a bid for Sainsbury's, with an offer of some £9.5bn sitting at the lower end of the spectrum.
"If it comes in at 550 pence, I wouldn't expect it to be a knockout offer. Given the share price rise, it's a bit lower than people were looking for," said Andrew Wade or Seymour Pierce .
Any offer also needs the acceptance of the firm's pension trustees.
They want to know that the consortium will be able to fill a large pension gap. The deficit in Sainsbury's pension fund reached £276m as of October last year.
While shares in the supermarket ended the day flat at 561.5p, they have been rising recently.
They have gained some 30% in value since the consortium was told it had to make a bid by April 13 or withdraw its plans earlier in the week.
The Takeover Panel issued the deadline after a plea from Sainsbury's advisers.
The latest development comes after Sainsbury's saw strong like-for-like sales in the first three months of 2007, up by nearly 6%.
Given such good results, analysts say it might be hard to persuade shareholders of the need or attraction of being acquired by a private equity group.