SPECULATION SWIRLS: Buzz continues to build around the future of World Duty Free, the airport mega-retailer controlled by the Benetton family’s parent holding company Edizione srl, which is on the hunt for new investment partners.

Top contenders include the Swiss Dufry; the South Korean Lotte and Shilla; the Chinese Sunrise Duty Free; and the French Lagardère group, which Italy’s financial daily Sole 24 Ore suggested Thursday was the most likely of the bunch to be joining forces with Qatar Holding LLC in a bid for majority control of World Duty Free. The newspaper also posited that Dufry, Lotte and Sunrise Duty Free could all be courting major financial groups to make their propositions to Edizione more appealing.

World Duty Free split from Autogrill, also in the Edizione portfolio, in June 2013, and was listed on the Milan Stock Exchange in Oct. of that year. If Edizione relinquishes majority control of World Duty Free, the retailer could jump from the Milan Bourse to the stock exchange of its new majority shareholder.

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