The sale of Elior has been put on hold while the contract caterer looks to make an acquisition in the United States.
The company's major shareholder Charterhouse Capital Partners took the decision to make a planned exit from the business at the end of last year and Rothschild Bank, HSBC and Credit Agricole were tasked with finding a replacement.
The sale, which is expected to fetch up to £3.45b (€4b) has now been delayed while the company attempts to acquire a contract catering business in the US, banking sources told newswire Reuters.
Charterhouse bought a 62.3% stake in Elior in 2006 for £2.1b (€2.5b). The French caterer's co-founder Robert Zolade has 24.7% and Chequers Capital owns 7.8%. The remaining 5.2% is owned by other investors.
Buyout firms CVC Capital Partners and BC Partners teamed up to show an early interest in the acquisition of Elior, while Blackstone and Clayton, Dubilier and Rice had also considered bidding. A buyout of Elior would require about £1.7b (€2b) of debt.