Allders takeover speculation grows

French flair: Luxury goods firm Louis Vuitton takes a stake in duty-free market
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The Independent Online
Allders, the department store and duty-free retailer, was at the centre of takeover speculation yesterday when it emerged that the French luxury goods company Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy had acquired a 2 per cent stake in the company, writes Nigel Cope.

An announcement on the Stock Exchange screens yesterday said that the LVMH finance director had confirmed the stake and quoted one analyst as saying: "This may be the prelude to a full-scale takeover bid." Allders shares closed 14 higher, at 184p.

However, Allders appeared to know nothing about the stake and declined to comment. It is not known whether LVMH acquired its holding in one tranche, or through a series of smaller transactions. It is possible that Allders may issue Section 212 notices to confirm the identity of its new shareholder.

Allders has been touted as a possible takeover target since a slump in its share price. This followed a poor performance from its department stores and concerns that its duty-free business would be threatened by the possible end of duty-free shopping in the European Union by 1999.

After being floated on the stock market at 170p two years ago, Allders shares peaked at 243p last May before slumping to below the issue price.

Last month Allders reported an 8 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to pounds 23.5m in the year to September.

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