Bosom pals, flamboyant retail tycoon Philip Green and Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton, whose day job is chairing Green’s Bhs retail chain, are likely to join the bidding fray for Safeway, Britain’s fourth largest supermarket group.

Green, who has a history of swooping out of the blue to snatch his prey, is expected to announce a formal cash bid in the region of £3 billion ($4.83bn; €4.53bn) today, Monday. The unconfirmed report also names Leighton, a former chief executive of Asda, now owned by another of the Safeway contenders, Wal-Mart of the USA.

Safeway, whose underperformance in recent years has been legendary, is an ideal target for Green, whose chequered career includes a brace of recent turnround triumphs, Bhs and Mothercare.

His bid, if it becomes concrete, is likely to put him at the head of the pack as it would raise few if any competition concerns – unlike J Sainsbury and Wal-Mart which could be excluded from the running in view of their hefty extant market shares.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff