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Last Updated: Monday, 21 April, 2003, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Somerfield board discuss bid offer
Somerfield supermarket
The Bristol-based chain has 588 Somerfield stores
The board of supermarket chain Somerfield is set to question its chief executive over his purchase of shares in the company shortly before a takeover bid.

John von Sprechelsen will face questions about 100,000 shares he bought days before Bob Mackenzie and John Lovering announced their interest in the Bristol-based firm.

Somerfield shares jumped by more than 20% last Tuesday once news of the bid broke.

But the company has so far defended its executive chairman Mr von Sprechelsen, saying the trade was a coincidence.

The board is also expected to demand Mackenzie and Lovering pay a substantial premium on the current share price if they are to secure backing for the bid.

The Reuters news agency said the 1,300 Somerfield and Kwik Save stores were last valued in 1996 by Knight Franks.

Their net book value in the annual accounts is 542.1m, but property experts assessing the portfolio at today's prices say the value is closer to 1.41 billion.

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