Conad, French retailer E.Leclerc’s partner in Italy, has refused to comment on rumours that it is set to buy Rewe’s Billa supermarkets in the country.

According to reports in French magazine Lineaires, Billa, which is owned by German chain Rewe, is being targeted by Conad, but a company spokesperson refused to confirm if negotiations are going ahead.

They said: “For the present it is not possible to confirm the news in relation to Billa.”

Rewe was not available for comment. In May the company booked a drop in full-year EBITA for 2010, with earnings reaching EUR514m ($US685.4m) – compared to EUR819m in the same period a year before.

Despite the fall in earnings, Rewe has stated a commitment to opening more stores in Germany and overseas.