Green drops plans to bid for Moss Bros

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The Independent Online

Moss Bros lost more than a third of its market value yesterday after the tycoon Sir Philip Green said he had no plans to launch a takeover bid for the menswear retailer and suit hire group.

Sir Philip, whose investment vehicle Warbeck bought a 28 per cent stake in Moss Bros on 12 November, paying £6.7m or 24.95p a share, said now was "not the right time" to make an offer. "We are busy and have plenty to do at this time of year and we are not looking for other aggravation," he added. "It's not the right time at the moment, there are too many other things going on. There's a million things being offered to me."

His announcement hugely disappointed investors in Moss Bros, and its shares subsequently plummeted by 10p, or just over 37 per cent, to 17p – valuing the retailer at just over £16.1m. The revelation that Sir Philip had taken the stake earlier this month led to speculation he would mount a full-scale bid. David Moss, a member of the founding dynasty of Moss Bros, declined to comment on the statement from Warbeck. The Moss family has an 18 per cent shareholding in the retailer but its position regarding the retail tycoon's involvement is not clear.

Sir Philip said he had not met the Moss family. Sources suggested that the family was asking for £1 per share, which would value the group at £94.5m. With the retail sector heading for one of its toughest years in recent memory, the chances of Moss Bros shares hitting that level are remote, unless something extraordinary happens.

Moss Bros includes the high street chains Moss, Cecil Gee and Hugo Boss, while Sir Philip's retail empire covers Bhs stores and the Arcadia-owned chains Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Burton.

Despite putting the brakes on any bid for Moss Bros, Sir Philip said joint initiatives were still possible. "We are talking to the company about doing the [suit] hire in relation to Burtons and Bhs, which is a win-win for both parties," he added.

The entrepreneur is still interested in snapping up other fashion chains, such as Karen Millen and Oasis, from the stricken Icelandic investment group Baugur. Sir Philip flew to Iceland last month to seek a deal with Baugur after the country's banking system collapsed. Last night, he said: "I have not spoken to them for two to three weeks. If something turns up and we can add value we will see what happens."

Baugur was prepared to pay 42p a share for Moss Bros back in May, but stake-building by the Laura Ashley fashion group sabotaged the bid.