The UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has said that UK supermarket group Wm Morrison only has to divest 52 Safeway stores if its acquires Safeway, instead of the 53 stores that had been previously announced.

"After having considered new and additional representations and consulted with the parties, the OFT has decided today that, if Morrison acquires Safeway, it will not be required to divest a store in Towcester," the OFT was quoted by Reuters as saying.

In September, Morrison was cleared by UK competition authorities to make a takeover bid for Safeway on the condition that it sold 53 Safeway stores if the bid was successful. Morrison has until 29 December to make an offer for Safeway.

This week, rival supermarket chain Asda, owned by US retail titan Wal-Mart, was reported to have made an indicative offer to buy 70 stores from Safeway for up to £2bn (US$3.49bn).

Earlier this month, supermarket groups Tesco, J Sainsbury and Asda were required to sign undertakings not to buy any part of Safeway, other than the 52 stores on offer, if it would lead to the loss of a fourth strong competitor in the UK market. If Asda were to try to purchase any Safeway stores other than the 52 stores covered by the OFT agreement, the move would raise competition concerns.