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The Times of London confirms that UK-based Tesco will not make a bid for Australia’s Coles Group, that nation’s second largest retailer.

The decision leaves Westfarmers, an Australian conglomerate that operates that nation’s largest D-I-Y retail business, and a consortium led by private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) as the likely front-runners in any bidding war for Coles. Woolworths, the nation’s largest retailer, also has been rumored to be interested in making a play for Coles’ non-competitive assets.

Westfarmers already has put a bid that is the equivalent of $16 billion (US) on the table; KKR made a lower bid that was rejected last year, and reportedly is formulating a new offer.

This decision does not mean that Tesco has abandoned plans of making an Australian incursion – only that the price of buying Coles was too high. There have been rumors that Tesco is looking to hire away some of Coles’ top talent with an eye toward staring up a new chain from scratch there.
KC's View:
Sounds like MNB needs to open a bureau down in Sydney…or least book a few speeches in Australia so we can find out what all the fuss is about.