LONDON: British clothes and food retailer Marks and Spencer Group plc (M&S) may enter a six-way battle for the country's fourth biggest grocery chain Safeway plc, the Daily Mail reported yesterday.
M&S advisers Morgan Stanley had been looking at Safeway’s network of stores to see how many could be converted into the M&S food format, the report said, citing banking sources.
M&S had declined to comment on rumours about it buying Safeway a week ago.
Yesterday's report said though a full bid was possible, M&S was deemed by analysts as more likely to be a “minesweeper” for leftover stores after any Safeway deal.
Depending on who buys Safeway, some stores may need to be sold off to satisfy regulators.
To date, William Morrison Supermarkets has put the only firm offer for Safeway on the table, valuing the grocery chain at £2.56bil.
But Britain's biggest supermarket group Tesco plc stepped in from the sidelines on Wednesday to join the likes of the world’s largest retailer, ASDA-owner Wal-Mart Stores Inc, and rival J. Sainsbury plc in considering making offers.
US investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and retail tycoon Philip Green have also expressed interest, and analysts said there may yet be other bidders, particularly private equity or overseas companies. – Reuters
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