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New York (AFP) — Dollar General on Tuesday sweetened its bid to acquire Family Dollar and threatened to launch a hostile takeover campaign in the latest twist in a bidding war among discount retailers.

Dollar General, the largest U.S. deep-discount chain, raised its all-cash bid for Family Dollar to $80 per share from $78.50, while also agreeing to pay Family Dollar $500 million if a deal is not completed for antitrust reasons.

Dollar General said its latest bid would provide Family Dollar shareholders with about $640 million in greater value compared with a proposal by rival Dollar Tree that has been favored by the Family Dollar board.

“We are confident that our enhanced proposal sufficiently addresses any concerns that led Family Dollar’s Board of Directors to reject our prior proposal without any discussions between our companies,” said Rick Dreiling, chief executive of Dollar General.

“If the Family Dollar Board fails to seize this opportunity to maximize value for its shareholders, we will consider taking our superior proposal directly to the Family Dollar shareholders.”

Dollar General’s Tuesday bid marks its second effort to woo Family Dollar, the number two company in the discount sector, after Family Dollar in August snubbed an earlier proposal worth $9.7 billion.

On August 21, Family Dollar rejected the bid by Dollar General, saying it could run afoul of U.S. anti-monopoly rules. Instead, Family Dollar, said it still favored a $9.2 billion offer from Dollar Tree.

But Dollar General said Tuesday it was confident it could win antitrust clearance after consulting antitrust experts. To win regulatory approval, Dollar General said it would agree to divest as many as 1,500 stores if ordered by the Federal Trade Commission.

Dollar General had previously pledged to divest up to 700 stores to get the green light from antitrust officials.

Family Dollar released a statement confirming it received the latest Dollar General Proposal and pledging to “review and consider” the bid in consultation with legal and financial advisers.

A Dollar General-Family Dollar combination would have nearly 20,000 stores in 46 states and sales of more than $28 billion. That compares with Walmart’s 4,900 mostly much larger U.S. stores which generate 12 times that much in sales.

In early trade, Dollar General jumped 1.5 percent to $64.92, Family Dollar shares rose 0.6 percent to $80.28, and Dollar Tree gained 0.8 percent to $54.07.

AFP Photo/Joe Raedle

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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