Wal-Mart, Sainsbury Formally Enter the Safeway Affray

15 January 2003

Warriors from planet Wal-Mart are in London to discuss with advisers their possible options in a bid for Safeway, the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket group.

On Monday, Wal-Mart issued a statement saying it noted the offers already on the table both from William Morrison and J Sainsbury and was considering following suit. The US giant – the globe’s largest retailer – has already made a submission to the Office of Fair Trading in order to seek clearance.

Many observers believe that a bid by Wal-Mart (and/or its UK acolyte Asda, number three in the nation’s supermarket league) will be rejected on competition grounds. And the same is likely of Sainsbury.

But there is too much at stake for the players not to want to sit at the table for what could become a long and bellicose poker game.

Meantime, J Sainsbury on Monday informally upped the bidding, saying it would consider offering more than the number it first thought of – £3.15 billion ($5.05bn; €4.80bn).

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff