Entrepreneur John Lovering has denied reports he is planning a counterbid for UK supermarket chain Safeway.

The denial came after a UK newspaper reported that Lovering had been planning a joint bid for Safeway with a private equity group and former Asda CEO Paul Mason. The report also claimed that Lovering had obtained financial backing of £3.5bn (US$6.4bn) from Royal Bank of Scotland, reported Reuters.

"I would like to make it clear that I have no intention of being involved in any current or future approach or offer for Safeway," Lovering said in a statement. "I have had no talks with the Royal Bank of Scotland and I have not seen any business or financing plans on the subject of Safeway stores which may contain my name." 

A spokesman for takeover target Safeway said he was not aware of a counterbid by Lovering.

"It's news to me. There have been rumours around the city for a few weeks that somebody was planning a counterbid. But there's no reason to believe this rumour is any more valid than any of the others," the spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Safeway's shareholders are due to vote on 11 February whether to accept a £3bn bid from rival supermarket firm William Morrison.