* RREEF in talks with Borletti, Qatari investors
* RREEF, Borletti bought Printemps from PPR in 2006
* Follows speculation of Galeries Lafayette interest (Adds background)
PARIS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - RREEF, Deutsche Bank’s real estate investment unit, said on Wednesday it had started exclusive talks to sell its stake in French department store group Le Printemps to Italian partner Borletti Group and Qatari investors.
Printemps is 70 percent owned by RREEF and 30 percent by the Borletti Group, headed by Italian businessman Maurizio Borletti.
Speculation about Le Printemps’ future ownership has risen in recent months as RREEF was believed to be ready to sell, while Borletti told Reuters in January he wanted to hold onto Printemps.
RREEF and Borletti bought Printemps from French retail and luxury giant PPR for 1.1 billion euros ($1.47 billion) in 2006.
RREEF made the announcement of exclusive talks in a statement. A source close to the matter told Reuters on Wednesday a firm offer could be made “within a few weeks”.
Speculation also rose in recent months in French media that rival French department store operator Galeries Lafayette, which tried to buy Printemps in 2006 but lost out to Borletti and RREEF, had shown interest in the company again and mandated a bank to prepare a bid.
Galeries Lafayette declined to comment again on Wednesday. ($1 = 0.7487 euros) (Reporting by Pascale Denis and Dominique Vidalon; Editing by James Regan)