The potential sale of Baugur’s debt and investments by Icelandic banks in UK retailers is on hold as Icelandic authorities assess their value and move to avoid a quick-fire sale.

It is understood that Kaupthing, which holds a 20 per cent stake in Mosaic and 32 per cent holding in Jane Norman as well as providing financial backing to Baugur, has agreed to retain its stake in one or all of the businesses.

The decision would safeguard the foreseeable future of the retailers, but allow Kaupthing to sell on its stake at a later time.

Kaupthing was nationalised earlier this month along with counterparts Landsbanki and Glitnir. It is understood they could follow suit with similar agreements.

This week, Icelandic officials have been locked in talks with the International Monetary Fund over a rescue package for the country. One source said the rescue would allow Iceland’s authorities to “be more selective about what they do with the assets”.

Alchemy Partners chief Jon Moulton said that it “looks like Iceland is trying to sort itself out before selling things”, and that a timetable was “unguessable”.

Sir Philip Green said that talks with Iceland had gone quiet. “I’m ready to do business, at the right price, if somebody wants to,” he said.

Baugur shareholder and House of Fraser chairman Don McCarthy said: “We are going through a period of assessment and common sense before any decisions are made.”

House of Fraser and Whistles, which are respectively preparing for an MBO and seeking a backer as a contingency, also have exposure to Icelandic banks.

Whistles chief executive Jane Shepherdson said she was “extremely positive” and that there had been “a huge interest” in Whistles.

No comment was available from Jane Norman or Mosaic.