"We are not commenting on the bidding process," said a spokesman for Galeria's insolvency manager Stefan Denkhaus. NRDC was not immediately available for comment.

Galeria, which recently filed for insolvency, is seeking a new owner after the collapse of its parent Signa, the Austrian-based property empire that has become the biggest casualty so far in Europe's real estate crisis.

NRDC, which is partnering with former retail manager Bernd Beetz for the deal, plans to submit a binding offer next Monday, with the purchase agreement to be concluded as early as the day after, sources familiar with the matter told WirtschaftsWoche.

Baker already owned a stake in Galeria Kaufhof via Hudson's Bay Company prior to the merger with Karstadt, but subsequently sold it to Signa Group.

(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi, writing by Andrey Sychev, editing by Friederike Heine)