The auction of Iceland Foods has been delayed until mid-January, according to latest reports.

The second round of bidding for the frozen food retailer is likely to stretch into next year after unexpected delays hit the process, the Financial Times reports.

It had been expected that second-round bids would be submitted to UBS and Bank of America Merrill Lynch by mid-December.

But Icelandic bank Landsbanki, which owns 67% of the supermarket, said it is “not in a hurry” to do a deal, preferring to “run the process in a way that optimises the most value”.

On Tuesday the Daily Telegraph reported Iceland founder Malcolm Walker is understood to be teaming up with Blackstone’s debt arm GSO to help finance his offer to buy the frozen food chain.

The paper said GSO is in discussions to commit more than £300m to the Iceland deal but Iceland insisted it has not teamed up with any backers yet.

Walker had reportedly had issues relating to commercially sensitive information potentially being shared with competitors but this is understood to have been resolved.

Landsbanki has put a £1.5bn price tag on the frozen food chain which has 750 stores. Asda and Morrisons submitted first round bids but are unlikely to keep the whole estate.