By  on June 15, 2006

PARIS — Will PPR, the French retail giant that owns Gucci Group, unload its Printemps department store chain?

Speculation is building here that a deal could be imminent. A spokesman for PPR declined Wednesday to comment on "rumors."

But a possible divestiture of the chain's 17 stores, including the Boulevard Haussmann flagship here, has garnered attention for about a year. And the market applauded the scenario of PPR selling the low-margin retailer to concentrate more on luxury holdings, as its stock gained 2.3 percent to close at 91.70 euros, or $114.90 at current exchange, in trading on the Paris Bourse.

France's Galeries Lafayette, Italy's Rinascente and Spain's El Corte Ingles are considered potential bidders.

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