Blackstone Group, KKR & Co. and TPG Capital have made preliminary approaches to Woolworths to express interest in Big W, according to a Bloomberg report.
The Big W chain could be valued at around $1.5bn, Bloomberg claimed. The report said discussions on the buyout may not begin in earnest until a replacement is found for departing CEO Grant O'Brien, who announced his retirement plans in June.
Shares in Woolworths have dropped 13% this year, but were up at the market's opening on Friday.
A private equity group has made preliminary approaches to a major Australian retailer in an effort to buy out one of its store chains.