Chinese retailer Wumart Stores has denied reports that the company is in the final stages of talks to acquire smaller rival Times.

Earlier this week, reports suggested that Beijing-based Wumart was likely to win the bidding for Times, with an offer of around US$600m. Hong Kong-listed Times confirmed last month that it was looking for offers.

In a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, Wumart chairman Wu Jianzhong said the information had no “substance”.

“None of the information contained in such press reports is provided by the company and the company is not aware of the source of such information.” 

However, Wumart has recently raised funds for acquisitions in a share sale to private equity groups TPG Capital and Hony Capital. Acquiring Times would add a network of supermarkets in eastern China, helping Wumart to expand out of its northern region and build a national position. 

Wumart previously agreed to buy a 50% stake in Times in August 2006. The deal was scrapped the following year after Wumart shares were suspended from trade.