The Office of Fair Trading is expected this week to put its findings to the government on which of the five potential bidders should be allowed to takeover supermarket chain Safeway.

Asda was first to make a submission to the competition body and the OFT’s 45-day self-imposed deadline for a judgment expires today and could be revealed on March 18 or 19.

Experts believe that Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda will all be referred to the Competition Commission, whose investigation could then take at least three months.

While Morrisons - with the only formal bid on the table - might not be referred to the CC.

Retail entrepreneur Philip Green is the other bidder in the frame.