Liberty family attacks board decision to sell up after 125 years of retailing

The `for sale' sign was yesterday hoisted over Liberty, the upmarket retailer. The company's board took the decision to prevent Liberty's founding family and a rebel shareholder from trying to win control of the group without paying a premium price. Nigel Cope, City Correspondent, reports.

Liberty would be valued at pounds 84m at yesterday's closing share price, which soared 25p to 377.5p. Nick Bubb, retail analyst at Societe Generale Strauss Turnbull, said possible buyers of the Regent Street retailer could include House of Fraser, which owns the Dickens & Jones and DH Evans department stores, and Great Universal Stores, the mail-order group which owns Burberry and Scotch House. GUS has sufficient cash resources for a bid and has been rumoured to be interested in expanding its high street retailing interests.

Other buyers could include Allders, the department store group which has been looking for a central London flagship store, and Harvey Nichols, the Knightsbridge store group which has been expanding fast. Another possible buyer would be Harrods, the Knightsbridge department store group owned by Mohamed Al Fayed. Overseas buyers keen on snapping up a trophy London asset may also be interested.

The plan to seek buyers for the 125-year-old company was attacked by the Stewart-Liberty family which has aligned itself with Bryan Myerson, a rebel shareholder. The two groups, which between them account for 44 per cent of the shares, said they would press ahead with their plans to oust Denis Cassidy as chairman and appoint Mr Myerson and Odile Griffith, the family's financial adviser, as joint chairmen.

Liberty's managing director, Ian Thomson, said the board was seeking to act in the interests of all shareholders. It criticised the Stewart- Liberty family and Mr Myerson for attempting to gain control without paying a premium and without giving other shareholders the opportunity to exit. "We believe that it is improper in terms of corporate governance.

"The company is in much better shape than it was 18 months ago. There could be a number of companies that would be interested."

The board revealed yesterday that in June Mr Myerson had proposed that a shell company be established to take over Liberty. Mr Cassidy and the two other executive directors, Ian Thomson and Andrew Garety, would have been granted a 10 per cent stake between them. The board said the bid would have diluted the Stewart-Liberty shareholding.

The board rejected the proposal though Mr Myerson then made a second proposal in July. This would have involved separating the retailing and wholesaling operations of Liberty from the property, brand and licensing interests.

This revised plan would have included a share option scheme which Mr Myerson claimed could have yielded pounds 8.3m to the three executive directors over five years.

The board said this would also have diluted the family shareholding.

However, the family and Mr Myerson confirmed yesterday that they will stick to an irrevocable undertaking to act in concert for six months.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Junior Research Analyst - Recruitment Resourcer

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £25K: SThree: SThree Group has been well estab...

Senior Analyst - Financial Modelling

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This really is a fantastic chance to joi...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game