updated 3/1/2005 12:32:48 PM ET 2005-03-01T17:32:48

Toys "R" Us Inc. has narrowed the list of potential buyers of its toy business to four groups, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

According to the Journal, the four groups are Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.; a partnership of Apollo Advisors LP and Permira Advisors Ltd.; an alliance between Bain Capital LLC and Vornado Realty Trust; and a group that includes Cerebus Capital Management LP, Kimco Realty Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the newspaper said the groups have made offers in the $3 billion to $3.5 billion range, and the retailer could choose a winning bid as early as next week.

The Wayne, N.J.-based retailer put its toy operations up for sale last year so it could focus on its faster-growing Babies "R" Us unit, which sells infant clothes, linens and furniture.

The toy chain has been hobbled by competition from discounters like Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp., which have slashed prices — sometimes below cost — to lure shoppers into their stores, analysts said.

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