German retail giant Metro Group has declined to comment on reports it is in talks with several potential buyers for its Real stores in eastern Europe.

According to a Reuters report yesterday, French rival Auchan as a frontrunner for the operations. However, the French retailer said it would not comment on market speculation or rumours.

The German retail giant has repeatedly denied reports it is looking to sell off its Real hypermarket stores outside Germany as part of a restructuring of the business.

In July, Metro said it had received some interest in the international business of Real but said there had been "no concrete negotiations" and that no decision to sell the stores had been made.

Reports in October had linked Auchan, along with Russian retailer O'Key as two of three bidders in the running for the Real stores in Russia.

The group is expected to reveal details of its plans for the future of Real on the release of its full-year results next year.