A Brazilian judge has reached a preliminary decision that Dutch retailer Ahold must sell its Brazilian supermarket chains Bompreco and G Barbosa separately or face a fine.

The attorney general’s office in Sergipe, one of the three states where Ahold operates both Bompreco and G Barbosa stores, had asked the courts to penalise a joint sale because of anti-trust issues, reported Dow Jones International News.

“The judge found in favour of the fine but against a request that the sale be delayed for a period of 12 months,” an assistant in the Sergipe attorney general’s office told Dow Jones Newswires, adding that the decision could be overturned by a higher court.

Brazilian retailer Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao and France’s Carrefour have both expressed interest in acquiring Ahold’s retail assets in Brazil, while US retail giant Wal-Mart is also thought to be interested.