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    Reports: Tesco Mulling bid for Albertsons

    LONDON -- The British press was busy with reports yesterday that Tesco has sent an in-house team to the United States to probe the possibility of making a bid for Albertsons.

    LONDON -- The British press was busy with reports yesterday that Tesco has sent an in-house team to the United States to probe the possibility of making a bid for Albertsons.

    The Business paper here apparently broke the story, which was picked up by Reuters and other news organizations. Tesco, which is scheduled to report half-year results later this week, is said to be looking for an entrée into the U.S. market, and the team is said to be snooping for takeover opportunities, with Albertsons an obvious option.

    The Boise-Idaho-based chain made plain its intention to sell earlier this month, when it revealed it had hired investments bankers to explore options for increasing shareholder value. Since then, Albertsons execs have alluded to the possibility selling off parts of the company and keeping some parts intact, confusing some industry observers as it management's intentions. The reported price tag for the chain is $7.6 billion.

    The press reports said the Tesco team is in the early stages of preparing due diligence on Albertsons before making a recommendation to their c.e.o., Terry Leahy. Of the reports, a Tesco Spokewoman told Reuters, "We never comment on rumours or speculation."

    Tesco has been in expansion mode both in Europe and Asia, prompting none other than Wal-Mart to squawk to U.K. government officials about Tesco taking unfair competitive advantage through market dominance.

    In addition to Tesco, France's Carrefour, Belgian Delhaize, America's Kroger and even Wal-Mart are said to be sizing up Albertsons for possible acquisition opportunites.

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