India-based retailer The Future Group has put on hold talks to sell a 49% stake in its sourcing and manufacturing operations to Japanese retailer Lawson, according to reports.

It has suspended the talks after stake sales in two other units have allowed it to significantly reduce its debt levels, The Economic Times reported, citing two unnamed sources.

Lawson had insisted on being offered the first chance to buy a stake in Future's retail stores when India allows overseas supermarket stores to invest in the country, according to The Economic Times.

However, Future Group is cooling on this condition after the group's debt burden fell by INR46bn following two earlier transactions, the report said.

Founder and chief executive Kishore Biyani hopes to make his flagship firm Pantaloon Retail virtually debt free by March next year, without having to dilute his stake in the food and value retail business.

In May, the company sold a majority stake in department store chain Pantaloons to Aditya Birla, and offloaded the lion's share of the group's debt when private-equity firm Warburg Pincus acquired a 53.67 stake in Future Capital Holdings.