Bernardo Caprotti, the chairman of Italian supermarket chain Esselunga, has denied reports that it is in talks with Tesco regarding a possible takeover.

Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reported that Esselunga had been put up for sale and had entered into negotiations with the UK retailer.

"We have no contacts with Tesco. Tesco and Esselunga are two incompatible companies,"' Caprotti said in a statement.

He said that the report was a "free journalistic interpretation" of the group's recent financial reorganisation. He did not comment on whether Esselunga is up for sale.