BILLIONAIRE Philip Green confirmed yesterday that he is still prepared to go head to head with supermarket chain Morrisons in the battle for Safeway.

The retail entrepreneur, who owns British Home Stores and the Arcadia fashion chain, was quoted at the weekend as saying he would not be making a bid after studying financial information on the UK's fourth biggest grocer.

But in a statement made yesterday through his bid vehicle, Trackdean Investments, Mr Green said he was still in the running.

The statement said: "On January 28, Trackdean announced that it was continuing to evaluate a possible offer for Safeway. The situation remains unchanged. A further announcement will be made if and when appropriate."

Of the five parties interested in taking over Safeway, Mr Green was the only one not subject to the competition inquiry.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt is expected to announce the outcome of the Competition Commission's study later this week, with only Morrisons likely to be offered a clear path to a full bid.

Wal-Mart-owned Asda faces, at best, the prospect of selling off a large number of stores while Tesco and Sainsbury's are set to be blocked as the commission tackles concerns that a dominant group would hit shoppers and suppliers.

The only condition likely to be imposed on Morrisons is that it sells about 50 of Safeway's 480 stores in areas where the two chains overlap.

That could still prompt chief executive Sir Ken Morrison to lower the price that Morrisons offers for Safeway after tabling a £2.9bn offer in January.

Should Asda - now the UK's second largest supermarket chain - be blocked, it is thought the company may still be prepared to link up with a private equity bidder in order to acquire some stores.

It has also been reported that Safeway's management team may put together a proposal if bid values fail to come up to scratch. Such a move is also likely to involve the sale of a number of stores.

Before the weekend reports, Morrisons was 2/1 favourite with City bookmaker Cantor Index to land Safeway, with Mr Green second at 7/2 and Asda third at 4/1.