Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley is thought to be considering selling his 11.1% stake in House of Fraser to Chinese investor Sanpower.
It emerged Ashley's Sports Direct had made a surprise purchase of the stake from Sir Tom Hunter's investment firm West Coast Capital last week, snapping it up under the noses of the other investors in the group who are in the process of selling their stakes to the Chinese retail giant.
There were fears that Ashley would try to derail the bid. However, he is believed to be prepared to sell the stake to Sanpower, for the right price.
Sanpower, controlled by former government official Yuan Yafei, is finalising a deal, believed to be worth more than £450m, to buy the stakes of all the other shareholders.
Sources have claimed Hunter's sale to Sports Direct has breached a pre-emption agreement in place and legal letters are being exchanged. Retail magazine Drapers has reported that "Sports Direct looks likely to make a tidy profit" on the potential sale of its stake.
Ashley, who founded Sports Direct Group, has been eyeing House of Fraser for two years. He had tried to buy the chain previously but the deal came to nothing.
There are around 60 House of Fraser department stores around the UK, including one in Belfast's Victoria Square shopping centre.