retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that the UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) created a fine bit of confusion last week’s with its decision to refer bids from Tesco, Sainsbury, Wal-Mart and William Morrison Supermarkets to the nation’s Competition Commission for further investigation of monopoly-related issues.

The OFT only allowed a potential bid from retail magnate Philip Green who does not own any supermarkets, to go unchallenged -- and now, according to various reports, Green is re-evaluating his bid before going forward.

It came as some surprise that the Morrison bid was referred, since many analysts felt that it didn’t have the same issues as the other three larger companies. But while Morrison had been saying that it likely would have to sell just seven out of Safeway’s 479 stores to put antitrust issues to rest, the current thinking is that it might have to sell off as many as 70 -- in part because the OFT is defining “local competition” in broader terms than ever before.
KC's View:
One of the prevailing views among UK observers seems to be that the OFT decision was right in line with the strategy eschewed by Tesco and Wal-Mart, both of which just wanted Morrison to be lumped in with them.

Now, especially with Green perhaps having second thoughts, it seems to be jump ball…