Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What is Woolies worth? A buck and a half

Actually one pound, but I don't know how to insert a pound symbol in Blogger..

One pound is what Britain's Woolworth's chain will reportedly be sold for, although the buyer, Hilco, may be balking at taking on the pension shortage of $150mil.

Woolworth's was in trouble before the economy soured (I posted this item back in June), and there has been takeover talk for a while. Reportedly there was a bid to take it over for 50 million pounds in August. Bet they wish they had taken that offer.

Any deal will also require the approval of the pick and mix retailer's banking syndicate, which recently appointed restructuring advisers Deloitte.

In a statement this morning, the Woolworths' board confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions regarding a possible offer for the retail business. However, it added that "there can be no assurance that any offer will be forthcoming".

It is widely believed that a demerger of Woolworths' underperforming retail arm and its media and distribution business – 2entertain, the DVD publisher, and EUK, a specialist distribution business – would be the best outcome for the struggling business.

One possible bidder for 2entertain is BBC Worldwide, which already owns 60 per cent of the joint venture.

Update, Sunday 23 Nov: According to this report, Hilco is now willing to take on more of the debt, but a decision must be reached very quickly or Woolworth's will have to declare bankruptcy.

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