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Woolworths PLC Ends Merger Talks

June 14, 2002

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LONDON (AP) _ Woolworths PLC said Friday it has withdrawn from exploratory merger talks with the owner of Bhs, a major British retailer, saying it had concluded a deal would not be in the best interests of its shareholders.

Woolworths shares had risen 24 percent this week in expectation of bid by Bhs owner Philip Green. Its share price dropped 11 percent after Friday’s announcement.

Woolworths disclosed that it had held exploratory discussions with Green about a closer relationship, including a possible merger with Bhs.

``After due consideration of the potential benefits of a merger, the board does not believe that such a merger, with its attendant risk and uncertainties, would be in the best interests of shareholders,″ the company said.

``Accordingly, Woolworths has terminated the discussions.″

Woolworths was once part of the American retail company formerly known as Woolworth Corp. Founder Frank Winfield Woolworth exported his retail concept to Britain in 1909.

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