Spotlight on: David Jones

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The Independent Online

Wasn't he from that popular beat combo The Monkees?

No, that was Davy Jones, and he unfortunately died in February.

So who is David Jones?

A Welsh émigré who sailed to Australia to set up a department store in Sydney in 1838.

Why are we talking about him now, 174 years later?

David Jones is a 37-strong listed department stores chain in Australia, selling everything from pots and pans to fashion goods.

Sounds lovely, but why do we care here in Britain?

The chain sprang to our attention when it emerged last week it had received a mysterious £1.1bn bid from a Newcastle-based private equity firm.

There can't be many of them.

Quite. EB Private Equity doesn't have a phone number and isn't listed at Companies House.

EB Private Equity? Never heard of it.

Neither had anyone else. Its website domain name registration is said to be an address in Newcastle between a noodle bar and a wig shop, sparking analysts to claim the bid was a hoax. But chairman John Edgar told Australian newspapers that EB has $200m (£127m) of funds under management.

What's happened to the bid?

Good question. EB suddenly pulled out yesterday, claiming "recent publicity … made it difficult to proceed".

What's next for the chain?

Its chairman, Bob Savage, is facing questions about why such a tentative bid was made public. Shares in the retailer shot up 15 per cent on Friday but fell back yesterday. And trading at the stores is still dire.

Why would a property investor be interested in a retailer?

David Jones' shares had halved over the past year but it has a property portfolio worth up to A$700m (£458m) – mainly the freeholds of its stores.

So this could be one for the record books?

David Jones, the oldest department store in the world still trading under its original name, is perhaps now the only one to have had a £1.1bn bid come and go so mysteriously.