B&J 'in breach of contract' over bid

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The Independent Online
GERALD and Vera Weisfeld, the millionaire couple who made a rescue bid for Brown & Jackson, claim the company is in breach of contract by supporting a rival offer from Pepkor, the South African retail group.

They are taking legal advice after last Friday night's surprise decision by B&J to back Pepkor's bid of up to pounds 56.2m for a maximum of 63 per cent of the company, which owns the 220-chain Poundstretcher discount chain.

Mr Weisfeld said he had 'reason to believe' that Philip Green, the former chairman of Amber Day, was connected with the Pepkor bid. This is despite a categorical denial of such a link from Pepkor. Mr Weisfeld refused to give his reasons to the Independent, but said: 'I will be making a statement in a day or two.'

The B&J board had previously backed the Weisfelds' proposal to inject pounds 6m in return for a 19 per cent stake and two seats on the board. This offer was to be put before an EGM yesterday, but the meeting was formally opened and immediately adjourned until 31 May.

Mr Weisfeld said: 'We had an agreement with B&J. Their (the B&J board) support for Pepkor is in breach of that agreement.' John Jackson, B&J's chairman, said: 'We have consulted with our lawyers and simply feel we are not in breach of any agreements. We have a duty to our shareholders to consider all offers and accept the best.'

He had asked Pepkor if Mr Green was linked with its bid. 'The reply was a categorical denial. And a categorical denial from a man like Pepkor's chairman, Christo Wiese, has to be taken seriously.'