Chinese tycoon in talks to buy UK retailer House of Fraser - source

LONDON, March 30 Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:17am EDT

LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - Chinese business tycoon Yuan Yafei is in talks with British department store group House of Fraser regarding a bid that values the company at more than 450 million pounds ($749 million), according to a source familiar with the situation.

The proposed takeover, first reported by British newspaper The Sunday Times, was tabled by Sanpower, the Nanjing-based conglomerate founded by Yuan.

The source said that although the talks were advanced there was no certainty a deal would be done.

The 160-year-old House of Fraser, which trades from 61 stores in Britain and Ireland and has annual sales of about 1.2 billion pounds ($2 billion), has been running a dual track sale process - looking for potential buyers while also considering a possible initial public share offer.

Talks about a sale to French counterpart Galeries Lafayette ended in January.

House of Fraser declined to comment. Reuters was not immediately able to contact Yafei for comment.

House of Fraser has a complicated ownership structure, with 49 percent of the holding company Highland Group Holdings owned by the representatives of failed Icelandic banks Landesbanki and Glitnir.

Chairman Don McCarthy owns 20 percent, retail entrepreneurs Tom Hunter and Kevin Stanford own 11 percent and 9 percent respectively, Lloyds Banking Group has 5 percent and other management 6 percent. ($1=0.6011 pounds) (Editing by Greg Mahlich)