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Falabella, Steinhoff in race for Brazil's Via Varejo -newspaper

SAO PAULO Nov 24 SACI Falabella SA, Steinhoff International Holdings Ltd and Lojas Americanas SA are among a group of retailers interested in acquiring appliance retailer Via Varejo SA, Valor Econômico newspaper said on Thursday.

Valor, citing people with knowledge of the situation, said GPA SA, Via Varejo's controlling shareholder, had received a list of potential interested parties from Banco Santander Brasil SA, its advisor in the deal.

Late on Thursday, GPA's board authorized management to start proceedings to sell the 43.3 percent controlling stake it has in Via Varejo. Executives and press representatives for Santiago-based Falabella, Johannesburg-based Steinhoff and Rio de Janeiro-based Lojas Americanas did not immediately comment.

Via Varejo did not have an immediate comment.

GPA, Brazil's largest diversified retailer, wants to exit Via Varejo to focus on food retailing. The company, which owns supermarkets under the Pão de Açúcar brand, posted a larger than expected third-quarter loss, due in part to a sharp drop in non-food sales at the group.

Brazil's appliance retailing segment has struggled over the past two years with the impact of a recession not seen in eight decades and a credit crunch, which worsened as unemployment and interest rates climbed.

France's Casino Guichard Perrichon SA, which in turn controls GPA, hired Santander Brasil to advise on the Via Varejo deal. The Klein family, holder of a 27.3 percent stake, has hired the investment banking unit of Banco Bradesco SA as advisor. (Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and David Evans)

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