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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 15:34 GMT
BHS owner gears up for Safeway bid
Philip Green
Green has his sights set on the supermarket group
BHS tycoon Philip Green is to seek regulatory clearance to make a cash bid for supermarket chain Safeway.

Mr Green is understood to be preparing a 300p per share bid, which would value the group at 3.2bn.

The bidders
Morrisons
Sainsbury
Philip Green
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
Asda/Wal-Mart
Tesco
Such a move would pile the pressure on the five other potential bidders to have expressed an interest in acquiring Safeway.

It is thought both US takeover specialists Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Wal-Mart are poised to publicise how much they are willing to spend.

But they are thought to be waiting for each other to show their hand first.

Further information

In an announcement to the London Stock Exchange, Mr Green's company Trackdean said it had met the Office of Fair Trading on Monday and intended to seek clearance to make a bid.

"In addition, Trackdean has requested certain further information from Safeway in order to continue to evaluate any such offer," it added.

But an announcement on a possible bid is "not expected for several weeks", it said.

Outflanking rivals

An announcement by Morrisons two weeks ago that it had agreed a 2.9bn deal fired the starting gun for what is expected to be a frenzied bidding war.

If Philip Green didn't exist, journalists would like to make him up

Jeff Randall
BBC business editor
Safeway's recommendation of the Morrisons' offer was dropped last week.

Safeway then raised the stakes on Friday by announcing its property assets were worth more than expected.

Independent valuation in October estimated the value of 201 of its top stores at 4.5bn - an increase of nearly 2bn, the company said.

Analysts believed Safeway was attempting to push its sale price towards the 400p per share mark - a market value of 4.2bn.

Higher offer

If Mr Green goes ahead with his bid, it will put pressure on his rivals given his bid is unlikely to be referred to the competition authorities.

The Monaco-based billionaire owns one of the UK's largest clothing businesses after buying BHS and Top Shop group Arcadia.

But he currently has no interests in the food retail sector.

Morrisons is the only one of the six to have formally proposed a deal and could still come back with a higher offer.

But its falling share price has pushed the value of its all-paper bid for Safeway down by 500m in the past fortnight to 2.4bn.


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26 Jan 03 | Business
23 Jan 03 | Business
22 Jan 03 | Business
22 Jan 03 | Business
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