Dairy Farm International Holdings Ltd may keep most of its loss-making Franklins stores in the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Franklins may now only sell a handful of its 143 New South Wales stores; probably those operating under the Franklins Big Fresh banner, to US-based Wal-Mart Stores, the newspaper reported this morning.

The news follows yesterday’s speculation in the newspaper that Wal-Mart or Germany’s Aldi Group had bought all of Franklins’ New South Wales stores; and Coles Myer had agreed to buy Franklins’ stores in Victoria state and South Australia state

Jose Gomez, spokesman for Wal-Mart’s international corporate affairs would not fuel market speculation, adding:  “Wal-Mart’s position is that we don’t comment on rumours and speculation.”

Hong Kong-based Dairy Farm will decide the future of its Franklins stores by the end of March.