The upcoming auction of UK retailer Iceland Foods has attracted “a lot of interest” from retailers, investors and its CEO, a source close to the situation has told just-food. 

Information on the sale of 77% of Iceland Foods will be sent out in the next few days. Failed Icelandic banks Landsbanki and Glitnir have put their respective 67% and 10% stakes in the frozen food retailer up for auction.

The source said: “There has clearly been a lot of interest in the auction from across the board, including rival retailers, private-equity firms and Malcolm Walker.”

Walker, the founder and current CEO of Iceland Foods, has expressed his desire to buy the company on a number of occasions.

The source would not comment on the value of the stake. Numerous financial media and analysts have reported that the banks handling the sale are an eyeing a valuation of about GBP1.5bn (US$2.4bn).

They also confirmed that all of the UK’s four major retailers – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – will receive the sales information.

A spokesman from Glitnir said:”As a small minority owner, we will not comment further while the sales process is under way.”

Analysts have put Morrisons forward as a front-runner in the race to buy Iceland and the UK’s fourth-largest retailer has appointed Credit Suisse to advise it on any potential offer. Asda has also been named as a possible bidder.

Sainsbury’s is known to be ready to be look at the possible stores on offer from the Iceland estate but is unlikely to make a bid for the entire business.

Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, would be precluded from buying Iceland on competition grounds but could look to buy individual stores.