Tesco join forces with Woolworths, Australia’s biggest retailer, to mount a bid of at least A$19bn (£7.9bn) for Coles, the country’s second-biggest retailer. The Times

Woolworths is throught to be considering a partnership with Tesco as one of several options as it plans the carve-up of its rival.

Woolworths is interested in Office-works, Coles’s stationery division, and Target, the discount department store.

However, competition issues would not allow it to buy Coles’s key supermarkets and liquor businesses. Tesco, which does not have a business in Australia, could take on Coles’ supermarkets business, which it could run in competition with Woolworths.

Coles invited bidders in February and received a A$19.7bn proposal from a consortium led by Australian company Wesfarmers and includes the private equity firms Permira and Macquarie Bank.