Heal's targeted by City raiders

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The Independent Online

Brian Myerson and Julian Treger, two of the City's most feared corporate raiders, have built up a 18.3 per cent stake in Heal's which analysts believe could lead to a bid for the upmarket furniture retailer.

Brian Myerson and Julian Treger, two of the City's most feared corporate raiders, have built up a 18.3 per cent stake in Heal's which analysts believe could lead to a bid for the upmarket furniture retailer.

The holding has been built up through their Active Value Fund, which over the last five weeks has been gradually vacuuming up the shares.

Heal's, which closed at 151p on Friday with a market capitalisation of £18.4m, is considered by analysts to be under- valued and has consistently underperformed since its flotation at 205p in March 1997.

Mr Myerson and Mr Treger have a reputation for pouncing on assets that look cheap and are noted for their takeover of sleepy retailer Aquascutum in 1990. Brian Myerson hit the headlines this year by teaming up with the property company Marylebone Warwick Balfour (MWB) to acquire Liberty, the London department store he has laid siege to for nine years.

It is unlikely that Mr Myerson and Mr Treger are targeting Heal's for its property assets, however, as its most valuable store, in London's Tottenham Court Road, is leasehold. MWB said it was not involved.

A more plausible explanation for their interest is the internet. Because the retailer has just four stores, developing a strong online presence could increase revenues. Last month Heal's launched its own site, but analysts point to Mr Myerson and Mr Treger's stake in Illuminator, the internet incubator, which was last month reversed into AIM-listed MultiMedia Corporation.

Heal's chief executive Colin Pilgrim said: "I don't know exactly what their motivation is. Only a week ago I asked Mr Treger the direct question, 'Why the recent appetite for our shares?' and he said, 'Because they represent good value'."

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