Last word

Iceland’s Kaupthing was named as key bid backer for Matalan founder as chairman John Hargreaves announced a recommended £817m (US$1.5bn), 200 pence per share, buyout offer for the UK retailer. The offer is being supported by debt facilities arranged and fully underwritten by Icelanic bank Kaupthing. The take private bid is being made through Missouri Bidco, a bid vehicle wholly owned by the Hargreaves family through Missouri Topco. The family said it intends to open the equity share capital of Missouri Topco to the incoming executive management of the Matalan Group. Hargreaves and his family already hold a majority 53% stake in the business. Barclay’s Capital had originally been lined up to support the bid but has been replaced in the past month by Iceland’s Kaupthing.

  • AXA Private Equity, the investment arm of the French insurance group, is in exclusive negotiations with PAI Partners with a view to buying French floor-covering company Gerflor, according to a source. IFRBO Europe believes that AXA Private Equity is offering in excess of €300m for the business. In 1998, a management-led investor group including CDC Participations, Intermediate Capital Group, Financiere Natexis and Amiz acquired Gerflor.
  • Cognetas is near to selling retail chain Spar to its management team for €390m (US$490m). A source close to the investment company confirmed that the deal was “in the final stretches” and “likely to close next Monday” (October 16). Cognetas has been looking to sell BWG, the holding company that operates Spar stores in the Republic of Ireland and some areas of the UK, for several months. Cognetas bought the company from drinks group Pernod Ricard for €220m in 2002. It also acquired Newhill, which runs 115 stores in Ireland, for €55m. The management of the Newhill division together with BWG’s chief executive and finance director are leading the bid. They have secured financing from AIB. Cognetas will have completed six deals this year after this sale.