Switzerland-based travel retailer Dufry and Italian catering company Autogrill have confirmed talks on a merger deal to create a ‘travel retail giant’.

The confirmation comes after Bloomberg reported that the two companies were in an ‘advanced stage of discussions’ and an agreement could be signed soon.

In a statement, Autogrill said: “With reference to today’s press rumours related to a possible transaction involving an industrial combination with the Dufry Group, Autogrill announces, to the extent of its competence and also on the basis of the information received from the controlling shareholder Edizione, that there are ongoing discussions, without any exclusivity, regarding a possible integration between the two groups.”

The company restated that it is interested in evaluating strategic opportunities to develop and create value for all its stakeholders.

It added: “Autogrill will promptly inform the market if the legal requirements are met.”

If the deal is executed, it could create a travel chain with annual revenue of around €6.3bn, according to Reuters.

Sources said that under the proposed deal structure, Dufry would pay in shares to acquire Autogrill.

In a statement, Dufry said: “In light of recent media reports and market speculations, Dufry confirms that it is involved in discussions regarding a possible transaction involving Autogrill.

“Dufry regularly examines its strategic options. However, at the moment, there is no certainty that any of these discussions will result in any transaction, nor with regard to its nature, terms and conditions.

“Dufry will keep the market informed if and when appropriate.”

Bloomberg reported that Autogrill’s largest investor, the Italy-based Benetton family, would become the top shareholder in the merged entity, holding a 20% stake.

Following the confirmation of merger talks, Autogrill’s shares increased by 5% on 29 June, while Dufry’s were up by 3.6%.