Baugur, the Icelandic group that is buying into the British high street, yesterday confirmed it was in talks with department stores group House of Fraser.
It said negotitions over a possible £351 million, 148p a share, cash bid were at an "advanced" stage.
However, Baugur warned that there was no certainty that an offer would ultimtely be forthcoming.
That element of the statement will disappoint investors who expected a formal bid recommended by House of Fraser's board to be announced this week.
Baugur confirmed the members of the consortium it leads includes Don McCarthy, the head of the Shoe Studio, Principles and Warehouse fashion chain Rubicon, who would become chairman of HoF if the deal succeeds.
Others are Sir Tom Hunter's West Coast Capital (through its unit TBH Trading Ltd), retail entrepreneur Kevin Stanford, Icelandic investment firm FL and Bank of Scotland (through its unit Uberior Investment PLC).
House of Fraser shares last night closed unchanged at 144 1/2p.