Icelandic bank Landsbanki, one of the major shareholders in Iceland Foods, has reiterated plans to sell its majority stake in the UK retailer but played down the prospect of a quick sale.

Landsbanki told just-food last month that it had started preparations for a sale of the frozen-food specialist. Reports in the UK this morning said the bank was set to appoint advisers to handle the sale of its 67% stake.

A spokesman for Landsbanki said the bank was still looking for advisers to lead the disposal and said no formal process had begun. He said it was “too early” to suggest when a formal auction of Landsbanki’s stake could begin.

The spokesman also played down the prospect that the process could be wrapped up quickly. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was sold next year or even a year after,” he said.

Speculation around the future of Iceland Foods has grown since the autumn, when reports in the UK claimed that the retailer’s founder and current CEO Malcolm Walker, who owns 24% of the business, had tabled a GBP1bn (US$1.6bn) offer to buy out Landsbanki.

The spokesman for Landsbanki, as he did in December, insisted that the bank had yet to receive any offer for its stake, although he conceded that “some parties have shown interest”.