HOUSE of Fraser is in talks to be acquired by the French department store chain, Galeries Lafayette, it's been reported.
The retailer, which has 61 stores in the UK and Ireland – including a flagship store in Belfast's Victoria Square Shopping Centre – is said to be looking for a price tag of at least £450m, the Financial Times said.
At the same time, it is believed to be continuing with preparations for a flotation on the London Stock Exchange early next year.
Family-controlled Galeries Lafayette, which has 65 stores, has exclusivity on the talks until the end of January.
House of Fraser, which generates sales of £1.2bn a year and employs 7,300 people, as well as 12,000 concession staff, has been the subject of takeover speculation in the past year.
It is believed to have held informal takeover talks with Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley and the Qatari royal family before setting its sights on a return to public ownership.
The chain, which is 161 years old, first listed on the stock market in 1948.
A spokeswoman for the department store said she had no comment to make on the story.