Thursday, October 16, 2008

A bidding war for UK retailers?

In the current environment it's heartening to see multiple parties scrambling to buy assets -- a sign that investors are willing to buy strong companies and that they see an end to the downturn, perhaps not too far off.

Anyway, that's how it looks to me, and why I'm happy to see several groups lining up to try to take over some of the UK retailers currently belonging to Iceland's Baugur group. I mentioned a few days ago reports that Britain's Sir Philip Green was interested in buying up the group's debt. Subsequently, some other private equity groups came forward, and now there are reports that management of some of the retailers may want to buy themselves.
The management of a number of Baugur-backed retailers are putting plans in place to buy back equity and debt now controlled by the Icelandic government.

Management of House of Fraser, Mosaic, Iceland and Jane Norman are understood to be considering mounting their own bids for the retailers. [...]

Following the collapse of Iceland's banking system, the Icelandic government controls the debt connected to Baugur's investment as well as the bank's stakes in the retailers.

Sir Philip Green is one of a number of parties circling Baugur's £2 billion debt, including private equity firms Permira, Alchemy, TPG and Blackstone.

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