Tchenguiz abandons quest for Selfridges

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The Independent Online

The Iranian property millionaire Robert Tchenguiz walked away from bidding for Selfridges yesterday, leaving the way clear for the £628m offer from the Canadian businessman Galen Weston.

The decision ends weeks of uncertainty over the potential for a bid battle for the upmarket department store group. Mr Tchenguiz's bid vehicle Aletheia Partners had set yesterday as its deadline for deciding whether it would try to trump the agreed deal tabled by Mr Weston.

The consortium of investors was thought to include overseas institutions and Royal Bank of Scotland as well as wealthy individuals such as Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.

Funding problems and the issue of price were believed to be the main stumbling blocks. However, a statement issued by Aletheia yesterday said: "In the light of the continuing uncertainty regarding the general retail trading environment, Aletheia Partners, together with its consortium of equity investors, has decided not to proceed with a bid for Selfridges."

Mr Weston's bid vehicle, Oxford Acquisitions, said: "We are delighted that this has now removed the uncertainty regarding Selfridges. Our offer is recommended by the Selfridges board, remains open until 10 July and we look forward to receiving acceptances from shareholders."

Analysts said shareholders -- who had been holding back waiting for a bid from Mr Tchenguiz -- would snap up Weston's offer of 387p cash per share, plus a 5.25p dividend.

John Baillie, retail analyst at SG Securities, said: "Galen Weston has tied it all up. He's paying a pretty full price. It's hard to see anyone coming to really counter it. I think the institutions will sell [and] the offer will be successful."

Galen Weston is part of the Weston family which controls Associated British Foods, Fortnum & Mason and Heal's. He has already snapped up a stake in Selfridges that blocks other bidders from taking full control.