Ahmed presses on with £37m offer for Moss Bros

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The Independent Online

Shami Ahmed, the Joe Bloggs fashion entrepreneur, will today launch his long-awaited £37m formal offer for Moss Bros, the struggling clothing retailer he has been stalking since December.

The move follows a series of tense negotiations between Mr Ahmed and the company, culminating yesterday in Moss Bros rejecting a request from the entrepreneur for access to its accounts.

Mr Ahmed said in December that he was interested in entering discussions with Moss Bros and has since built up a 5.42 per cent stake in the business. Delays to the announcement of a formal offer prompted speculation that he was encountering difficulty raising financing.

It is thought that Moss Bros rejected the request for due diligence in the wake of a meeting on Thursday with Mr Ahmed's advisers West LB. The company was left unconvinced of his financial backers' commitment.

However, Mr Ahmed is believed to have since lined up funding from Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS. He is also using some of his own cash.

Moss Bros said in a statement: "There would be a material risk that this process would cause disruption to Moss Bros and have a negative impact on staff."

Moss Bros is also unhappy with the level of the offer, thought to be set at about 40p a share, a small premium to Friday's closing share price of 37.75p. The shares are up almost 25 per cent since Mr Ahmed first let his interest be known.

If Mr Ahmed is to be successful, he will have to win over the Moss and Gee families, who between them hold a 38 per cent stake since the merger of Moss Bros and Cecil Gee in 1988.

The families are committed to supporting a new chief executive, Adrian Wright, who was brought on board yesterday. Mr Wright joins from his role as managing director of the massive Essex shopping centre Bluewater and starts in a week on a salary of £200,000 with a maximum £100,000 bonus plus share options.

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