Supermarket chain Morrisons is a step closer to becoming the UK’s fourth national player following the withdrawal of retail entrepreneur Philip Green from the battle for Safeway.

Green’s investment vehicle Trackdean said that in the wake of detailed analysis from its professional advisers, it would not proceed with an offer for Safeway.

A Morrisons/Safeway merger would create a supermarket group valued at some £5.5bn, with combined sales of £12.6bn and a market share of 16.1%.

Bradford-based Morrisons sparked off the takeover frenzy in January with a £2.9bn bid. It has been cleared by the Office of Fair Trading to buy Safeway’s 479-strong estate on condition it sells 53 stores, due to competition concerns.

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