Private equity firm Apax Partners Worldwide has entered a fresh bid for Woolworths Group that would value the British retailer at £821.8 million ($1.6 billion). Woolworths confirmed the new offer

Private equity firm Apax Partners Worldwide has entered a fresh bid for Woolworths Group that would value the British retailer at £821.8 million ($1.6 billion). Woolworths confirmed the new offer today (March 18); the news came ahead of a March 21 deadline imposed by the U.K. Takeovers and Mergers panel.

The corporate regulator has given both parties until May 6 to announce their intentions.

In a statement to the London stock exchange, Woolworths said its board of directors has received a proposal from Apax worth 58.2p per share. Woolworths on Feb. 8 rejected an indicative proposal from Apax of 50p-55p per share, valuing the retailer at up to £789 million ($1.46 billion). Stock in Woolworths closed today up 11.56% at 55.5p.

Earlier in the day, the Takeovers panel ruled that it would not extend the deadline, which it handed down Feb. 22. Apax had until March 21 to announce a firm offer for Woolworths or pull out of the process.

Woolworths has long been a leading player in British music retail. In 2003, the 800-plus-store chain accounted for 11.2% of album sales and 29.5% of singles sales in the United Kingdom, according to the British Phonographic Industry.

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