Monsoon founder's latest move to buy out its minority shareholders is accepted

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The Independent Online

Peter Simon, chairman of the fashion retailer Monsoon, looks set to take private the company he founded 30 years ago at the third time of asking, finally drawing his fractious relationship with the City to a close.

Mr Simon and his family own a stake of over 75 per cent in the boho-chic fashion chain, but the controversial businessman has failed to buy out the company's minority shareholders in two previous attempts over the past two years due to quibbles with non-family shareholders, specifically the hedge fund Polygon, over his valuation of the company.

Despite a significant deterioration in trading since he made his first offer pitched at 140p a share back in 2005, shares in the struggling retailer have tripled on speculation that Mr Simon would continue to pursue his ambition to take it private. His latest offer, pitched at 424p a share, appears to have done the trick, with the company's board and Polygon accepting the bid, which values the chain at £755m.

The company will hold an extraordinary general meeting in November to approve the deal. Analysts said that although the offer represents a mere 4 per cent premium to the company's share price, resistance to the bid is unlikely.

Mr Simon's irreverent attitude to corporate governance, which has seen the company shun the policy of independent directors and refuse to discuss its results with the media, has often resulted in the 58-year-old ex-market trader being at loggerheads with the City since it floated part of the company in 1999. He founded the company in 1972 and presided over its growth from a single store in London to an 858-strong retail chain, with half of its stores overseas. The Monsoon chain also encompasses the Accessorize brand.

As was the case last year when Mr Simon last had a tilt at buying out the company, the latest takeover attempt was accompanied by a further downturn in trading, the latest in a string of profit warnings over the past three years. The company, which uses Elizabeth Hurley and Heidi Klum in its advertising, said that trading since the end of May had been "very poor", with total sales down 2 per cent and like-for-like sales dropping 9 per cent compared with 6 per cent last year.

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