Property company British Land has emerged as the early frontrunner to buy a £350m portfolio of Marks & Spencer stores, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The retailer aims to raise £300m from the sale and leaseback of 79 stores.

British Land is Britain's third biggest property company and already has retailing joint ventures with Sainsbury's, Tesco and GUS.

Under the deal, M&S is offering to take a 20-year lease on the stores. Other companies in the running include London & Regional, Reit Asset Management and Rotch.