Norman wants to be 'Mr Turnaround'

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The Independent Online

Archie Norman, the former Asda boss and one-time Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells, is negotiating a return to the City as a turnaround expert.

Archie Norman, the former Asda boss and one-time Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells, is negotiating a return to the City as a turnaround expert.

Mr Norman, who stood down as an MP before the election, is in talks with various private equity houses and hopes to find a suitable vehicle within a year. Possible partners include Permira, Cinven, Bain Capital and New York buyout giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

"Financing isn't an issue," said Mr Norman. "There's a lot of private equity money out there and the issue is not what price, it's finding the right opportunity. I'm not ruling out doing a public company job but I would prefer to do it with private equity."

Mr Norman is chairman of Energis, the telecoms group taken over by its creditors three years ago. But he is best known for Asda where, with chief executive Allan Leighton, he turned round the ailing supermarket chain before selling it to US giant Wal-Mart.

He is not restricting himself to retail companies but conceded he wanted a "fast moving" industry. He also said he would welcome working with Mr Leighton again but threw cold water over speculation that the two were teaming up to bid for a struggling retailer such as J Sainsbury or Wm Morrison.

"Allan is a smashing guy, very talented, and he and I worked very well together. But we have gone our separate ways, though we talk to each other from time to time."

Although he did not rule out a bid for Morrisons, which last week issued a third profits warning this year, he said chairman Sir Ken Morrison was unlikely to step down, making it an unsuitable target.

He also distanced himself from B&Q owner Kingfisher - rumoured to have caught the eye of US giant Home Depot - saying it was well run and just suffering from a tight market.

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