Bid losers consider legal action against Brown & Jackson

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The Independent Online
GERALD and Vera Weisfeld are considering legal action for damages from Brown & Jackson, the owner of the loss-making Poundstretcher discount retailer whose shareholders yesterday rejected the couple's rescue bid.

The Weisfelds may revise their offer before Friday, when B&J investors are expected to back a rival deal, but this seems unlikely.

At an extraordinary meeting yesterday, Mr Weisfeld said last month's decision by the B&J board to switch its backing to a rescue deal from Pepkor was a breach of contract.

At first, the B&J board had backed the Weisfelds' offer to inject an initial pounds 6m in return for a 19 per cent stake and two board seats. Their proposed investment could have reached pounds 28m, taking their stake to 42 per cent. But B&J's board changed its mind and supported Pepkor's proposed injection of an initial pounds 20m and a possible total investment of pounds 56.2m, taking its stake to 63 per cent.

Mr Weisfeld said: 'Two leading counsel have given strong advice that the agreement between B&J and Pepkor constitutes a clear breach of contract. I was advised that I might succeed in obtaining an injunction against B&J and Pepkor, but decided not to open myself to criticism of having fettered the right of shareholders to decide on the merits of competing rescue proposals.'

He would not say whether he was intending to raise his offer, but one B&J spokesman said: 'If he was going to make a revised offer, I think he would have done it before shareholders rejected his first proposal. Why risk two knocks to your credibility?'

B&J shareholders representing 58.6 per cent of votes cast rejected the Weisfelds' proposal. It had needed 75 per cent acceptance.

John Jackson, chairman of B&J, said his advisers had told him the company was not in breach of contract. Pepkor, based in South Africa, owns the Your More Stores chain in Scotland.

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