Australian supermarket colossus Woolworths had declared its hand, admitting it is interested in acquiring Woolworths New Zealand from its current owner, Hong Kong-based Dairy Farm International, which has indicated its is open to takeover approaches.

The news comes just a week after the NZ competition authorities gave the green light to a takeover approach for Woolworths New Zealand by Foodland Associated, another Australian food retailer. Foodland is already active in New Zealand via its subsidiary Progressive Enterprise, which enjoys a 25% share of the market as opposed to Woolworths NZ’s 20%.

Woolworths [Australia] CEO Roger Corbett made the announcement at the NSW Farmers’ Association annual conference in Sydney yesterday [Monday]. He also moved to allay fears that Woolworths is moving into a position of market dominance in Australia. The National Party has alleged that Woolworths and Coles Myer together hold 75% of the Australian food retail market, giving them an unofficial monopoly. However, Corbett said Woolworths’ share of the “highly competitive” food, liquor and grocery market was 25.6% and that independent operators were better represented in Australia than almost anywhere else in the world. Once Franklins is reorganised, he said, independents will control 50.6% of the market.

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