The two banks own 76 per cent of the food chain, which could become the target of a bidding war. The firm’s management already have a 24 per cent stake in the company and are understood to have had a £1bn approach for the remainder knocked back earlier this year.
A battle between founding chairman Malcolm Walker and the gulf investors, represented by Global Banking Corporation of Bahrain, could push the value of the firm as high as £1.5bn.
Iceland reported a 19 per cent jump in profits last year. However, the firm has had a checkered recent history, with Icelandic conglomerate Baugur acquiring its parent company Big Food Group for £326m before collapsing, handing control of the chain to its banks’ administrators.