Malcolm Walker has entered into exclusive discussions with Landsbanki to buy Iceland foods for a reported £1.45bn.

Landsbanki said this morning that dealing solely with Walker offered the best chance of a sale being completed at the best possible price. A deal is now expected to be signed shortly.

“I am delighted the Icelandic banks have recognised the importance of management to the continuing success of the business and have been supportive in giving us the exclusive right to pursue negotiations with them,” said Malcolm Walker.

“I have every hope that we will be able to bring these to a successful conclusion within the coming weeks.”

He added: “This gives us a fantastic opportunity to achieve a deal that will be in the best long-term interests of Iceland Foods, our 22,000 staff and the five million customers who shop with us each week.”