UK - Delta Two, the prospective buyers of J Sainsbury, could yet see their £10.6bn (€15.3bn) bid to acquire the supermarket chain scuppered by family shareholders unless it can agree a funding deal with pension fund trustees.

A spokesman for the Sainsbury family said the group has not revealed any new intention to reject the deal as it has stated from the beginning of negotiations it would not back the deal, should the Qatar-backed investment fund fail to reassure trustees pension schemes will be sufficiently financed post-purchase.

In order for the takeover to be agreed, Delta Two needs to achieve 75% of the shareholder vote. Yet with 18% of the overall vote on any takeover or merger, the family is thought to be concerned a deal could still be accepted by the Sainsbury board of directors if no agreement with trustees is reached.

"We have consistently made clear the principles under which we would accept any offer. Importantly, this includes ensuring that the pension fund is properly allocated for," the Sainsbury family said in a statement.

What appears to be happening, however, is pressure is being stepped on Delta Two and the Sainsbury Board ahead of what is likely to be a firm offer for the supermarket within the next 10 days.

It is believed there is still a gap of between what J Sainsbury pension fund trustees expect in terms of additional assets to the £2.8bn (€4.1bn) fund in the event of a takeover and what Delta Two is prepared to pay.

While the Sainsbury's pension trustees have declined to comment, it is believed the required sum for future funding is over £1bn.

But as the takeover deal is not conditional on any agreement with the pension fund trustees, insiders say there is some "reputational" concern about the "high principles" of a company board minded to recommend a deal which leaves pensioners and staff to "look after themselves".

To March 24, 2007, the Sainsbury pension fund had a deficit of £55m, thanks to a £240m cash injection in May 2006.