SIR Ken Morrison has appealed to Safeway shareholders to get on board with his supermarket group's £2.4bn offer.

The executive chairman of Morrisons wants to draw a conclusion to the bidding war he sparked last month with a pre-emptive strike to buy its predominantly southern based rival.

Bedlam followed in the wake of Sir Ken's all-share offer, which has decreased in value from £2.9bn to its current level due to stockbroker doubts about the benefits of the move for Morrisons.

Sainsbury, Asda, Tesco, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and BHS billionaire Philip Green's Trackdean company have all subsequently expressed an interest in Safeway

Sir Ken said yesterday his firm's bid was the only offer "on the table" and it benefited from a lack of competition issues to trouble the Office of Fair Trading.

In a letter to shareholders, he said: "A combination of Morrisons and Safeway will create a strong fourth force in national food retailing with lower prices for customers and benefits for suppliers.

"The strong start to 2003 demonstrates the strength of Morrisons management and its culture.

"It also demonstrates that our offer for Safeway is not motivated by any shortage of growth in our own business, but reflects our wish to apply our skills as managers to a wider asset base. This expertise will benefit shareholders in both companies when the two combine."

Morrisons' document attempts to dispel any fears among shareholders about the risk of integrating the two companies by outlining its track record for scrutiny.

The financial document also describes the £150m of cost synergies which 71-year-old Sir Ken believes can be gleaned from the deal as well as an improved trading performance of £100m from the third full financial year to January 2007.