Facia in US deal

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The Independent Online
Facia, the privately owned high street retailer run by the controversial Sheffield entrepreneur Stephen Hinchliffe, was last night bought by a small quoted US shell company for an undisclosed sum, writes Patrick Tooher.

In a statement, Texas American Group said it would pay for the assets and liabilities of Facia, the second-largest independent retailer in the UK with 850 outlets, through the issue of shares. The amount of equity would depend on the completion of an audit of Facia's accounts. The statement said Facia had combined sales in the UK of $250m in 1995. The company is arranging "substantial " equity financing for Facia's immediate cash needs.

The deal involves the creation of a US holding company, Facia Inc, which will own the assets and liabilities of Facia Ltd, which will be wholly- owned by Texas on completion.

Facia has expanded rapidly by acquisition over the last couple of years to take in such well-known retail names as Sock Shop, Salisburys, Saxone and Freeman Hardy Willis.

However, the Facia holding company has been criticised for delays in filing its accounts and earlier this month the DTI began disqualification proceedings against Mr Hinchliffe. These relate to his previous involvement with sports surface manufacturer Boxgrey, formerly En-Tout-Cas, which went into liquidation two years ago. Mr Hinchliffe is contesting the action, arguing he was not responsible for placing Boxgrey into liquidation.