OFT to consider all Safeway bids at the same time

The Office of Fair Trading is likely to refer its findings on all five potential Safeway bidders bidders to Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt at the same time.

It had been thought that because Philip Green's submission to the OFT came four weeks after Asda's, a decision on his approach might come later.

But a well-informed source said: 'We have had confirmation from the OFT that everything will be dealt with in one fell swoop.'

An OFT spokeswoman said: 'We will try to give our advice at the same time, but it is by no means definite.'

Hewitt will announce whether to refer bidders to the Competition Commission next week.