Retailing entrepreneur Philip Green is said to have sought more financial information from Safeway before he makes a final decision on whether to go ahead with a cash offer for the supermarket group.

Green, who has linked up with former Asda chief executive Allan Leighton, yesterday began talks with thew Office of Fair Trading about his possible bid for Safeway.

Shares in HP Bulmer have dropped by nearly a third over worries about the cider maker’s financial health.

Last Friday the group revealed that poor sales over the festive season meant it was in danger of breaching the terms of bank loans.

It added that it was considering the sale of its distribution arm - The Beer Seller - to reduce debts and also said it would also consider possible takeover bids for the Group.

Unilever has raised its forecast for underlying sales growth for its top 400 brands to “some 5.4%” ahead of previous guidance of 4.5 to 5% growth given by the company in December.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer products group was forced to break its close period silence after investors misinterpreted co-chairman Antony Bergmans comments that the group had enjoyed improved sales growth.