UK supermarket group Morrisons has formally tabled its £2.4bn (US$3.96bn) offer for rival chain Safeway and “strongly urged” both companies’ shareholders to accept the offer.

Under UK takeover rules Safeway has 14 days in which to publish a response to the Morrisons offer document. Morrisons meanwhile has an initial 60 days to pull the deal together. The chain is still the only company to have made a formal offer for Safeway, but if a formal counter offer is made, the 60-day period is likely to be extended much further.

Safeway originally gave its support to the Morrisons bid, but in the wake of interest from other parties including supermarket chains Wal-Mart and Sainsbury, and BHS owner Philip Green, Safeway withdrew its backing for the offer.