Mountleigh 'close' to Spanish sale

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Speculation is growing that a management team at Galerias Preciados, the Spanish department stores chain, is close to a buyout from Mountleigh, the collapsed property group.

But a report that management at GP, whose chairman resigned on Monday, had already struck a deal was denied by KPMG Peat Marwick, Mountleigh's receivers.

'We're still negotiating with four or five different parties and no deal has been reached,' a spokesman for KPMG said, adding that a sale was still 'weeks away, rather than days'.

Three GP directors, Jesus Ortiz, Manuel Zafra and Antonio Cardeno, are thought to be planning a buyout. Parques Urbanos, a retail and leisure park operator, is interested in making a rival offer. Another buyer wants only a part of GP.

A spokesman for the management team was reported as saying: 'We have made a firm offer and it has been accepted in principle. I think ours is the only offer on the table.'

Galerias is Mountleigh's biggest asset. With its valuable city- centre sites it could fetch more than pounds 200m. Mountleigh collapsed in May owing pounds 590m. The banks, which are owed pounds 400m, have first claim on the proceeds of asset sales.

Michael Babcock resigned as GP's chairman on Monday. His replacement - described by the company as temporary - is Jaime Uya, formerly the purchasing director.