Fortress has obtained the first refusal right in the acquisition of Sogo & Seibu, amid investor pressure at Seven & i to focus on its core convenience store business, Nikkei said.
Fortress Investment did not respond to a Reuters request for comment outside U.S. business hours. Seven & i could not be immediately reached.
U.S.-based investment firm ValueAct, which holds a 4.4% stake in Seven & i, had urged the Japanese retailer to sell off Sogo & Seibu, saying in February the company could more than double its share price by focusing on its convenience stores.
In April, Seven & i said it would continue reforms of its business portfolio and had hired a financial adviser to conduct a strategic review of Sogo & Seibu.
Seven & i, the parent of 7-Eleven convenience stores, is expected to hold more detailed talks with Fortress, including on employment and whether to shut some stores, according to the Nikkei report.
($1 = 135.1900 yen)
(Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)