Allders silent on House of Fraser bid

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The Independent Online

Allders, the department store group, was tight-lipped yesterday over rumours that it was planning a takeover bid for rival House of Fraser.

The company is understood to have approached Tom Hunter, the retail entrepreneur who launched a bid for House of Fraser in January, with a view to buying his 6.9 per cent stake.

Shares in House of Fraser surged almost 8 per cent last week as the number of shares changing hands jumped from 140,000 on Monday to 3.8 million on Wednesday.

Allders is owned by the property company Minerva, which took control after Mr Hunter pulled out of the race when House of Fraser rejected his 85p-a-share indicative bid. The shares closed last week at 93p. However, it is understood that Scarlett Retail, the investment vehicle backed by Minerva, has not yet made a formal offer to John Coleman, the chief executive of House of Fraser , or to its advisers.

A further 8 per cent of House of Fraser stock is owned by Baugur, the Icelandic investor that has bought the toy retailer Hamleys.

Allders is run by Terry Green, the former chief executive of Debenhams, which is itself at the centre of a takeover battle.

Yesterday a spokesman for Minerva declined to comment but refused to deny the claims. "We are not co-operating with the story," he said.