Monday, 31 March 2014

House of China

Great scoop from Ben Marlow over the weekend about House of Fraser.

Ben, currently the M&A reporter at The Sunday Times, revealed that one of China's richest men is in advanced talks to buy the 165-year-old department store chain from its eclectic bunch of shareholders.

According to the report, Sanpower - a conglomerate controlled by former Chinese government official Yuan Yafei - has offered to buy the the historic British chain for £450m. Here is a link to Ben's original piece:

House of Fraser's talks with Sanpower are taking place alongside the company's move to (re)float on the London stock market.

While I have no doubt that Ben's scoop is true, I suspect this may be just another twist in the long-running House of Fraser sale saga.

Since I first revealed that Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle United, was trying to buy a stake in the company almost two years ago, House of Fraser has been linked with several potential acquirers, including some wealthy Qataris and France's Galeries Lafayette, which at one stage was in "exclusive" discussions to buy the department store.

Here is the link to my original piece when I was still working at The Daily Telegraph: -

My guess - and really this is just me speculating - is that the wily Mr Ashley will eventually be the winner in the game of who gets control of House of Fraser.

Indeed, I suspect Mr Ashley's recent complicated investment in Debenhams, another department store group, is linked to his interest in buying House of Fraser although don't ask me how.

Here is a link to Mr Ashley's investment in Debenhams:

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