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Daiei Inc. is contemplating selling 39 properties, including core branches, in a move that would generate proceeds of more than 80 billion yen as part of efforts to prune its debt, sources said Saturday.

If it goes ahead, the retailer would select buyers as early as next month, after which it would sign leases for the outlets to continue operations, the sources said.

The debt reduction would be aimed at helping its top shareholder, Marubeni Corp., form a business alliance between Daiei and either Aeon Co. or Wal-Mart Stores Inc., they said.

Subject to the sale would be 14 directly operated stores primarily in the Tokyo and Osaka metropolitan areas, 17 affiliated supermarkets, two branches of subsidiary Opa Co., three distribution centers and three food-processing centers, the sources said.

Although Daiei cut its group interest-bearing liabilities to about 400 billion yen as of the end of February from more than 1 trillion yen a year earlier, Marubeni views the debt level as still being too high, they said.

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