Liberty to sell after 125 years in family

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The Independent Online

The Stewart-Liberty family is this week set to agree a £68m offer for Liberty, ending 125 years of family ownership in the London department store, writes Clayton Hirst.

On Tuesday, quoted property company Marylebone Warwick Balfour (MWB) will offer around 300p a share, which will be accepted.

Advised by Deutsche Bank, MWB was due to make its bid late last week, but last-minute paperwork delayed the timetable. MWB has already secured backing from Brian Myerson, the South African entrepreneur who holds a 16.9 per cent stake in the store. With Mr Myerson's internet incubator, Illuminator, MWB is planning to turn Liberty into an e-tailer.

At the beginning of the year Elizabeth Stewart-Liberty, the family matriarch, asked Odile Griffith, a company non-executive director, to quietly seek bids for the company. If the Stewart-Liberty family sells, it will end nearly a decade of family feuding on the board.

However, a question mark would then hang over current chief executive, Michele Jobling, who could become a victim of a shift in the company's direction.