Trading house Marubeni Corp. plans to sell part of its equity stake in Daiei Inc. to Aeon Co. or Wal-Mart Stores Inc., eyeing a tieup with either of the supermarket chains, sources said Wednesday.

Marubeni, which became Daiei’s largest shareholder in August through a purchase of shares held by the government bailout agency, plans to sell 10 percent to 15 percent of Daiei’s outstanding shares, the sources said.

Marubeni will consider plans by both Aeon and Wal-Mart to support Daiei in choosing a partner, possibly in October, they said.

Aeon President Motoya Okada said Wednesday his company is interested in a tieup with Marubeni, sources close to him said.

“If (the tieup) is officially proposed, we will take it seriously,” Okada reportedly said.

Marubeni acquired the entire 33.67 percent stake in Daiei held by the government-backed Industrial Revitalization Corp. of Japan, boosting its Daiei stake to 44.64 percent.

The trading house has since stepped up its control over Daiei, tapping Toru Nishimi, Marubeni’s senior vice president, to take over the Daiei presidency. Daiei President Yasuyuki Higuchi has voiced plans to step down.

Marubeni President Nobuo Katsumata had been talking about the need for a business tieup with a major retail group, the sources said.

Aeon, which had tried unsuccessfully to be picked as the leader or Daiei’s rehabilitation, has been seeking tieups with supermarkets in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

U.S.-based Wal-Mart, which made supermarket chain Seiyu Ltd. a subsidiary last year, wants to boost its position in the Asian market by tying up with Daiei, they said.

“If we judge it is necessary to tie up with a strategic partner to promote the corporate value of Daiei, we plan to deliberate on it, but at this moment we are not in talks with a specific third party,” Marubeni said in a statement.

Despite what Aeon’s president reportedly said, the firm issued a statement, however, saying, “We are not involved in talks with Marubeni over obtaining Daiei shares at present.”

Daiei released a statement saying, “We are not involved in talks with a specific third party.”

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