Last word

Apax Partners has quashed rumours that it is circling UK heat treatment and materials testing specialist business Bodycote. A spokesperson for Apax said that the firm has no interest whatsoever in Bodycote, despite speculation in the press today that it has been investigating a 300p per share bid. Bodycote shares climbed more than 2% today to 273.5p by 3pm GMT. The spokesperson added that it has informed the Takeover Panel that it has no interest in Bodycote. The company itself has also denied any private equity interest.

Focus DIY, the troubled retailer owned by private equity firms Apax Partners and Duke Street Capital, will be sold for £1 this week according to reports. Focus announced that it had appointed NM Rothschild “as part of its ongoing strategic review” in early January. Kingfisher, which owns rival B&Q, Home Retail, owner of DIY store Homebase and Irish DIY business Grafton, are likely to bid for the business this week. Former Asda chief Archie Norman is also rumoured to be invited to make an offer. Norman set up investment firm Aurigo Management in June 2006 to focus on distressed situations. Lord Rothschild is rumoured to have been one of the firm’s cornerstone investors. Focus had had to renegotiate its loans – the firm is understood to have had a main banking facility worth at least £200m – on several occasions in order to avoid breaking its banking covenants. Last August, Merchant Equity Partners, a UK investment company set up to buy distressed European businesses, acquired the loss-making retail division of MFI Furniture Group for a nominal £1.