The owner of Japan's seventh largest convenience chain am/pm has denied reports that it is giving preferential treatment to the country's number two supermarket operator Lawson in a widely anticipated sale process.

It has been rumoured that Rex Holdings has put the am/pm chain up for sale and that Lawson has emerged as the most likely buyer.

However, a spokesman for the group told just-food that such press reports are premature.

"We have neither announced we will be putting am/pm up for sale nor can we say that Lawson is first in our minds if we ever did come to sell the chain," the spokesman commented.