News in brief

  • Baugur and Gerald Ratner have agreed to work together on a bid for Signet’s UK businesses. Ratner in August indicated an interest in acquiring H Samuel and Ernest Jones, the UK jewellery retailer’s UK businesses. Baugur, the Icelandic retail investment group, was at the same time reportedly working on a competing offer. Ratner and Baugur have now agreed that Ratner would acquire H Samuel, but sell on Ernest Jones to Baugur, according to a report in the Sunday Express. The businesses are believed to be valued at £175m (US$330m) each. Ratner’s agreement with Baugur should give some comfort to his financial backers that the offer stands a good chance of success.
  • Betting group Gala Coral is offering to buy the UK’s state owned on track betting operation the Tote, in a £400m (US$762m). The bid wopuld trump an offer put forward by figures within the racing industry six weeks ago and rejected by the government, the Financial Times reported without citing sources.Gala Coral is owned by private equity investors Candover and Cinven and Permira. The Gala Coral group currently operates 170 Clubs, 31 Casino venues and close to 1,500 licensed betting offices.
  • UK-based ECI Ventures has agreed to sell Kirker Travel, an independent British organiser of luxury holidays to its peer Kuoni. A source estimates that the independent provider of luxury holidays is worth in the region of £30m. In early 2003, ECI and Barclays Capital, funded a management buy-out/buy-in (BIMBO) of Kirker Travel, a provider of premium-quality short and city break holidays, from company founders Christopher and Angy Kirker. The company reported turnover of approximately £15m for the year ending 30 September 2002.
  • 3i has announced that it has agreed to sell for €162m (US$207m) a 60% stake in Denmark’s Damcos, a global supplier for the shipbuilding industry, to Emerson Electric, a NYSE-listed global technology and manufacturing company. 3i invested in Damcos (previously called Danfoss Marine Systems) in 2004 for a 60% stake in the company. Danfoss Group stayed on as a financial partner with a 25 % stake. Management took the remaining 15%.3i, Danfoss Group and some of the other shareholders are selling in total 91.5% of Damcos shares to Emerson. Damcos’s current management and staff, including managing director Ove Sørensen, are staying on after the transaction has completed.
  • Private equity firm Warburg Pincus has agreed to buy easycash, a German point-of-sale network service provider, from First Data International for an undisclosed sum.The deal comes at the end of a competitive auction that attracted industrial buyers and financial investors. It follows First Data’s June 2006 acquisition of GZS Gesellschaft fur Zahlungssysteme, as part of which the German Federal Cartel Office stipulated that it sell easycash. Completion of the deal is subject to approval of the German FCO.