The world’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, has put its weight behind its UK subsidiary Asda and confirmed it is considering making an all-cash offer to buy rival chain Safeway.

Wal-Mart said it would be prepared to sell some of its UK stores in order to get the deal cleared by regulators.

And added that it would be making a submission to the Office of Fair Trading today to seek such clearance.

Asda boss Tony De Nunzio said: “We’re Britain’s favourite and the number one company for which to work.

“Getting stores in parts of the country where we’re under represented means we can meet the pent-up demand of people who want our every day low prices - 12% lower than the average supermarket.”

Yesterday, Sainsbury announced it was considering a cash and share offer for Safeway of about £3.2bn and said it would have to sell about 90 of its stores in order to get an offer cleared by regulators.

Safeway’s announced last week that it had agreed to be taken over by the Yorkshire-based supermarket chain Morrisons for some £2.9bn.