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Tesco Denies Interest in Albertson's Buy

LONDON -- U.K. retail giant Tesco is saying no, thank you very much, to rumors that it has been investigating an Albertsons acquisition. At a press briefing following the release of its interim results at 24 weeks into the fiscal year, the chain set the record straight on reports in the British press that Tesco was on the hunt in American territory for an acquisition of Albertsons or another U.S. operation.

"We have no interest in Albertsons at all," said Tesco's c.e.o. Terry Leahy, during the press briefing.

Finance Director Andrew Higginson backed up his boss's comments in an interview with Dow Jones, confirming that the chain has no plans to buy any U.S. company. "We get speculation like this all the time," Higginson said. "We've got no plans for U.S. acquisitions."

Tesco said pretax profit for the six months ending Aug. 13 increased almost 19 percent to 908 million British pounds ($1.6 billion), while net profit was up 18 percent.

Total Tesco Group sales in the period were up 14.1 percent to 18.8 pounds ($33.8 billion), with U.K. retail sales increasing 11.1 percent 14.6 billion pounds ($26.2 billion) and operating profit up 19.2 percent, to 801 million pounds ($1.4 billion).

While the chain's performance beat expectations, execs were cautious about the future. "By improving the shopping experience for customers in our businesses around the world, we have been able to deliver another good performance in a more challenging year," Leahy said in a statement. "Looking forward, the accumulating effects of rising oil-related costs, both on consumer confidence and on our business, are a cause for concern, but we remain confident that we will make further progress in the second half."
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