Embattled Sears rejects Green's fresh 340p bid

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The Independent Online
THE BOARD of Sears has unanimously rejected a 340p a share offer from Philip Green, the entrepreneur, insisting that the bid does not reflect the value of the embattled retail group.

Rea Brothers, the investment bank advising Mr Green, wrote to Sears' board on Monday suggesting that Medinbond, Mr Green's takeover vehicle, was prepared to raise its original 300p a share bid by 40p a share. However, after holding a telephone board meeting, Sears rebuffed the approach, which would have valued the company at pounds 520m.

As in the first approach, which was made earlier this month, Mr Green's offer was conditional on a recommendation from Sears' board and the group allowing him to carry out due diligence. However, Mr Green had scaled back the amount of due diligence he wanted to carry out.

Mr Green said he was "disappointed" that Sears had denied him "limited access" to its accounts. "Denial of the access requested cannot possibly be in the best interest of Sears shareholders," he said.

Mr Green, who has the backing of a number of private investors including Tom Hunter, the founder of Sports Division, is now expected to wait until Sears issues its Christmas trading update on January 13 before deciding whether to renew his offer.

Sears pointed out that the approach did not amount to a formal offer and that it did not do justice to the value of the company. What's more, the retailer suspects that Mr Green would seek to drive down the offer price if he was given access to its books.

PDFM and M&G, the fund management groups who are Sears' major shareholders, are believed to be prepared to support a 340p a share cash bid if Mr Green launches a formal offer. Sears shares closed up 1p at 262p.