LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - The owners of Swiss-based duty free operator The Nuance Group are close to appointing banks to explore an initial public offering that could value it at more than 1.2 billion Swiss francs ($1.4 billion), three sources told Reuters.
Since a 2011 buyout valuing Nuance at 676 million Swiss francs, the group has been 50 percent owned by private equity firm PAI Partners and 50 percent owned by Italian retailer GruppoPam through its subsidiary GECOS.
Banks have been invited to take part in a so-called beauty parade to advise on a possible IPO, which could be launched later this year, two of the sources said, who asked not to be named as the matter is not public.
The Nuance Group and PAI Partners Dufry declined to comment. GruppoPam could not immediately be reached for comment. ($1 = 0.8834 Swiss francs) (Reporting By Anjuli Davies; Editing by Steve Slater)