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  • Marks and Spencer Group now says it is considering joining the queue of companies that will bid for Safeway Plc, the UK’s fourth largest food retailer, according to report in the Daily Mail. The company reportedly is looking at Safeway’s fleet of stores to see how many could be converted to Marks and Spencer’s food format

    Analysts seem to believe that M&S is more likely to bid for specific units if the entire company is bought by an private equity group like Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), as opposed to trying to buy the whole company itself.

  • Wm. Morrison CEO Sir Kenneth Morrison attacked his competition in the proposed acquisition of Safeway Plc, saying in a prepared statement that “a takeover of Safeway by Tesco, Sainsbury or Asda would eliminate a competitor, concentrate their purchasing power still further, and could create an anticompetitive and unhealthy market place with less choice and potentially higher prices."

    He said, “A financial buyer of Safeway is likely to lead to a break up, either now or later, leaving just three big food retailers. The alternative of maintaining Safeway on its own will not provide customers, suppliers or investors with the benefits of scale that our merger will bring.”

  • Reuters reports that more than a dozen investment banks, “hungry for M&A revenue after a global slump in activity,” are angling to get into the Safeway Plc acquisition game.

  • The Financial Times reports that both Wal-Mart and J Sainsbury are trying to hire John Bridgeman, former director general of the UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT), to help them with their bids to acquire Safeway Plc. For either company to make any headway, they will have to get OFT approval, and Bridgeman is seen as being critical to success.

    Bridgeman said he’s been contacted by virtually everyone who is in the running, but hasn’t yet decided which bidder he’ll get behind. Analysts seem to think that Wal-Mart is the most likely recipient of his expertise.

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