(Adds Tesco response, detail)
LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Tesco , the world’s third-biggest retailer, could bid for all or part of the UK’s Garden Centre Group when owner Lloyds Banking Group kicks off the sale of the business this week, according to the Sunday Times newspaper.
The report, citing sources close to negotiations, said the owner of the Wyevale and Blooms chains could fetch as much as 300 million pounds ($474 million) and that Tesco had registered an interest in the auction being handled by Rothschild.
Tesco could, however, cherry pick up to 20 prime sites rather than bid for the whole company, said the report, adding a number of private equity companies were also mulling bids.
A Tesco spokesman said the company would not comment on the report when contacted by Reuters.
Lloyds took control of the Graden Centre Group in 2009 after a debt-for-equity swap diluted founder Tom Hunter’s stake to about 20 percent.
$1 = 0.633 British Pounds Reporting by Rhys Jones; Editing by David Hulmes