Dutch number two chain Laurus is negotiating the sale of its loss-making Spanish subsidiary El Arbol to financial buyers, according to local press reports. Laurus confirmed that it wanted to concentrate on the Dutch market with new partner Casino which took a stake in Laurus on the understanding that its Spanish and Belgian operations would be sold. Full-year sales at the Spanish unit, which generates about 14% of group turnover, dropped from e956m in 2000 to e911m in 2001 despite the introduction of aggressive pricing tactics. Analysts said the most likely buyer for the Spanish business, with some 750 stores, is a private equity company which would sell it off piecemeal. A similar deal is also expected in Belgium. {{NEWS }}