Retail conglomerate Metro has called a halt to the sale of its Real hypermarket operating division for the time being. The plans have been put on hold because of the resignation of Metro chief executive Eckhard Cordes, according to reports.

Until recently, UK-based private equity firm Apax Partners had been in the race as a final bidder.

A Metro spokesperson said: “The bid from Apax was not considered attractive enough and we stepped back from negotiations a few weeks ago.”