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Woolworths Abandons Chase for Coles Assets

Woolworths, Australia's largest grocery chain, said on Wednesday it has decided not to proceed with a request for the competition regulator review a potential acquisition of some Coles Group assets.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last week ruled it would not allow Woolworths to buy Coles' business supplies chain Officeworks and general merchandise chain Kmart.

But the ACCC deferred a decision on whether Woolworths could buy the Coles' clothing chain Target.

Coles, which is being taken over by Wesfarmers for A$20 billion (US$18 billion), had previously considered a break-up of the company as an option.

Woolworths said Coles' individual units were no longer likely to come on the market.

"Woolworths has decided not to proceed with the application it lodged with the ACCC as it is not aware of any party wishing to acquire the other businesses for full value and therefore is not in a position to put forward an offer for the whole of Coles," the retailer said in a statement.

Coles shareholders are due to vote on the Wesfarmers offer at a meeting on Nov. 7, in what would be Australia's largest corporate takeover. Analysts expect the deal to proceed because no alternative offer has emerged.