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OFT denies involvement in Sainsbury takeover bid

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has denied being in any contact with Qatari investment group Delta Two regarding its potential bid for Sainsbury's.

The OFT put out a statement refuting any talks following reports in the media that the consumer watchdog had warned the investment group that any takeover should be financed in a way that does not weaken Sainsbury's competitive position on the high street.

Under its merger procedures, the OFT said it would not open a case until a formal or informal merger submission is made.

"No submission has been made in this case and nor has the OFT requested one to date," the statement read.

The statement follows a report in the Sunday Telegraph that Sainsbury was seeking urgent clarification on the funding of the 10.4bn takeover bid by Delta Two.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, the retailer is increasingly concerned about the level and cost of the debt supporting the approach, following last week's meltdown in the credit markets.

The newspaper reported that Sir Philip Hampton, Sainsbury's chairman, would this week meet Paul Taylor, the head of Two Delta, to push him on the issue.

It said the Sainsbury board hopes to decide whether to open its books in the next two weeks.