Kitty buys French frame firm

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KITTY Little Group, the USM- quoted sunglasses and air fresheners group, is paying Fr75.2m ( pounds 8.9m) for L'Amy, France's biggest maker of spectacle frames, whose brands include Nina Ricci, Lacoste, Ted Lapidus and Chevignon.

The deal, foreshadowed in April, marks a large expansion for Kitty Little, which is valued at pounds 8m. Last year it made pre-tax losses of pounds 245,000 on sales of pounds 4m. Turnover at the loss-making and debt-laden L'Amy was pounds 67.5m.

Kitty Little, which proposes to change its name to Eyecare and seek a full listing, is financing the cash purchase with a placing of 29.8 million shares at 30p by Credit Lyonnais Laing. It is also raising pounds 9.5m with a further placing and open offer of 30.6 million shares at 30p. The shares have been suspended at 41p since April pending details of the L'Amy deal.

Martin Franklin, chairman, said the deal was a key step in building a leading European eyecare business.

Mr Franklin, 29, joined as chairman last December. Together with his father, Roland Franklin, former managing director of the collapsed Keyser Ullman merchant bank, he took part in the pounds 700m takeover of DRG, the Sellotape and Basildon Bond group, in 1989. The Franklins' backers made a loss on the subsequent break-up.