Qatari investors are on the verge of acquiring 100% of the French department store chain Printemps for an estimated EUR1.6bn (US$2.1bn), as well as purchasing the Borletti Group which owns Italian retail chain, La Rinascente.

In February, the Borletti Group and Qarari investors began exclusive negotiations with Deutsche Bank's real estate arm, Rreef, to acquire its 70% stake in Printemps, with the Italian investment group holding the remaining 30% of the chain's capital.

However, just-style understands that Printemps' works council was informed last week that the Qatari investors, thought to be Qatar Holding, the operating arm of the nation's sovereign fund, are proposing to acquire the totality of Printemps capital, includng Borletti's stake.

Assurances had been given to the council that there would be no threat to the jobs of Printemps 3,400-strong workforce and that the company's management team would be retained.

Printemps has a chain of 21 stores across France, including its flagship outlet on the prestigious boulevard Haussmann inParis city centre.

In February, just-style reported that Galeries Lafayette had made a counter-offer to acquire Printemps, after an earlier EUR1.8bn bid was turned down.

Galeries Lafayette was proposing to team up with the same Qatari investors as Borletti.