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LONDON - William Morrison Supermarkets PLC has offered 3 billion pounds ($5.22 billion) for Safeway PLC, Britain's fourth-largest grocery chain, The Associated Press reports. The news comes almost a year after Morrisons announced a surprise all-share offer to buy Safeway.
A Morrisons' executive said today that Safeway directors have recommended the new offer to Safeway shareholders.
"It's been a 12-month process and we're delighted that we've reached this stage," Sir Kenneth Morrison, the executive chairman of William Morrison, told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.
"We have put forward an offer which the Safeway directors have recommended and which should ... see us take over Safeway in due course," he said.
As part of the new offer, Safeway shareholders would get Morrisons shares plus 60 pence ($1.04) in cash for each Safeway share -- equivalent to the likely proceeds from the disposal of 52 stores required by competition authorities. The combined company would have a total of 552 stores.
Sir Kenneth Morrison said Safeway had compiled a list of parties interested in buying the 52 stores but gave no further details. He said the larger Safeway stores would likely take the Morrisons name, while smaller outlets would not change names, at least for now.