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LONDON - Retail entrepreneur Philip Green on Tuesday asked Britain's competition watchdog for clearance for a cash bid for supermarket chain Safeway Plc, but said he was unlikely to launch a firm offer in the near future, Reuters reports.
The Green family investment vehicle Trackdean Investments Ltd said it did not expect to release further information for "several weeks".
Self-made billionaire Green was previously expected to make a pre-emptive strike in the form of an unconditional cash offer while other bidders were reviewed by competition authority the Office of Fair Trading.
One source close to the deal told Reuters that Green, who met the OFT on Monday, could face a strict competition review if the body wants to maintain a strong fourth player on the British grocery market.
Such criteria would also apply to an offer mooted by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, the U.S. corporate buyout specialist.
The five other parties interested in Safeway include UK supermarket groups Tesco Plc ,J Sainsbury Plc, Wal-Mart's ASDA and William Morrison Supermarkets Plc.
Green has emerged as one of the favorites to take Safeway, according to Reuters. Although he has considerable retail interests in Britain through Bhs department stores and the Dorothy-Perkins-to-Top-Shop Arcadia group, he has no involvement in the supermarket industry.