Green aims for Baugur assets by taking stake in Moss Bros

Unexpected swoop on 28% stake fuels speculation of takeover of retailer

Sir Philip Green has electrified the retail sector by swooping to buy a 28.5 per cent stake in Moss Bros, the branded suit specialist.

Sir Philip – the retail tycoon whose empire includes the Bhs chain as well as Arcadia Group's Topshop and Miss Selfridge chains – said he had "not decided" on whether to mount a full take over bid, but industry sources expect a deal to be forthcoming.

Sir Philip is paying 24.95p a share, or £6.7m, for the Moss Bros stake, which he has bought from Baugur, the beleaguered Icelandic investor. The purchase price represents a 58 per cent premium to the closing price of Moss Bros shares on Tuesday of 15.75p.

The dramatic share transaction by Sir Philip is significant because it reignited speculation that he is gunning to snap up struggling retailers at knock-down prices, particularly those owned or controlled by Baugur.

The billionaire said he saw a big opportunity to combine Moss Bros, whose units include the Moss high street chain, suit hire business and Hugo Boss retail franchise, with his own his own Bhs and Arcadia group. "Moss, and its hire business, is a brand we could do something with. The Boss franchise is also interesting. And in terms of the main street business we have resources, sourcing and the other things in terms of scale that would be a benefit to us."

Yesterday, shares in Moss Bros rocketed by 68 per cent to close the day at 26.5p.

For the six months to 26 July 2008, Moss Bros made a half-year loss of £1.6m and group like-for-like sales fell by 2.6 per cent.

Sir Philip is understood to be prepared for Moss Bros to remain a listed company and for other investors to remain as shareholders. However, a wider offer for Moss Bros would go unconditional if he gets control of more than 50 per cent of the shares.

The share register of Moss Bros includes the Moss family, who have an 18 per cent shareholding and the fashion-to-home furnishings retailer Laura Ashley, which owns more than 10 per cent.

Yesterday, David Moss, a member of the founding dynasty of Moss Bros, declined to comment. Sir Philip said he had not yet spoken to the Moss family this week, but said he had briefly chatted to Philip Mountford, the chief executive of Moss Bros.

Sir Philip – who flew out to Iceland to hold talks about a rescue deal to buy £1bn of Baugur's debt in October – said he was still talking with Baugur concerning a potential deal. Sir Philip said: "We are not in specific talks with them about anything. There is ongoing dialogue."

Baugur owns, controls or has stakes in a large number of high street retailers including Hamleys, the toy retailer, Iceland, the frozen-food specialist and Mosaic Fashions.

Sir Philip is thought to be particularly interested in the brands of Mosaic Fashion, which include Coast, Oasis and Karen Millen. However, he may face competition from private equity partners, such as TPG and Alchemy Partners to snap up these brands.

Asked about Debenhams and French Connection, Sir Philip said: "I was only offered Moss [Bros]. I have not been offered French Connection or Debenhams." While he said he had "no interest" in French Connection, he said he was not currently looking at Debenhams.

In May, Baugur abandoned a £40m bid for Moss Bros at 42p a share before the crisis in the Icelandic banking sector crippled its fortunes.

Yesterday, Unity, Baugur's investment vehicle which has links to Kaupthing, the failed Icelandic bank, sold more than a 2 per cent stake in French Connection from 20 per cent to 17.85 per cent. Industry sources said that the administrators of Kaupthing Luxembourg were unwinding some of Baugur's investments.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future