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.

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