EL CORTE AND KAUFHOF TALKS: Spanish department store group El Corte Inglés is said to be edging closer to a deal with Metro AG for the Galeria Kaufhof nameplate, according to sources in the U.S. The two are said to be discussing several options, which include a merger or some form of joint venture. Rumors first surfaced in the summer that El Corte and German department store chain Kaufhof were in merger talks, but both sides denied those discussions. Metro has said that Kaufhof is not a core business for the company, and that it would rather focus on its electronics division and its cash-and-carry stores. A spokesman for the Metro Group said in the summer that Metro would “not sell Galeria Kaufhof below its worth.” The price tag for Kaufhof is believed to be between 2 billion to 3 billion euros, or $2.7 billion to $4 billion at current exchange. Executives at El Corte and Kaufhof could not be reached by press time.