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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 07:42 GMT
Debenhams 'eyes share flotation'
Debenhams shop front
Debenhams operates 120 stores in the UK and 23 abroad
Department store group Debenhams is considering a return to the stock market, the Financial Times has said.

The newspaper reported that Debenhams has asked four banks to review its strategic options, including a possible float of its shares.

With a likely valuation of more than 3bn ($5.31bn), it could be one of the the biggest UK floats this year.

However, the privately-owned firm has repeatedly denied speculation that it plans an early return to market.

Last November, the retailer's finance director Chris Woodhouse said it had no current plans to list its shares, but did not rule out a flotation in 2006.

Debenhams is owned by the Baroness Retail private-equity consortium - comprised of TPG, CVC and Merrill Lynch Private Equity - which invested 600m of equity when they bought the company in 2003 in a deal worth 1.7bn.

The FT said Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley had each put in proposals to oversee a possible public offering.

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