Directors bid to take Fitzwilton private

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The Independent Online
FITZWILTON announced yesterday that discussions were taking place with a consortium led by Dr Tony O'Reilly, the group's chairman, and another non-executive director over a deal to take the Irish retail group private.

The consortium is offering 50p per share, a 37 per cent premium to the closing price on Friday. Fitzwilton shares closed 4p higher at 40.5p yesterday. Dr O'Reilly and Peter John Goulandris already control 27.6 per cent of Fitzwilton, which is due to report full-year results today.

Fitzwilton owns a 16 per cent stake in Waterford Wedgwood, the crystal and ceramics group. Last June it signed a joint venture with Safeway to redevelop its Wellworth supermarkets under the Safeway name in Ireland. It also owns a stake in Rennicks, a sign manufacturing company.

Kyiran McLoughlan, an analyst with Davy Stockbrokers, said he believed "institutions will find the consortium's bid attractive" and approve the deal.

He added that holding companies such as Fitzwilton used to be popular with institutional investors in the past as they were used as vehicles to invest abroad. They have recently fallen out of favour with institutions, which prefer to invest directly in foreign companies, he said.

Other large shareholders in Fitzwilton include PDFM, with 13 per cent, BOI Nominees, with 12.43 per cent and Dunnes Stores with 10.43 per cent.