Harvey Nichols' largest institutional shareholder, Deutsche Bank, yesterday estimated the upmarket department store was worth more than 300p a share, heightening speculation the fund management company could derail a 250p-a-share bid for the business.
A spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank said yesterday that its "theoretical estimate of fair value" for the Knightsbridge-based store had been "north of" 300p a share.
Deutsche Bank, which owns about 15 per cent of Harvey Nichols, believes last week's cash offer, which would see the company taken private if successful, was simply too low. Dickson Poon, the Hong Kong businessman who controls 50.1 per cent of the department store, nicknamed "Harvey Nicks", launched a 250p-a-share offer for the business last week.
That offer, which values the company at about £137.5m and which has been recommended to shareholders by management, is less than its flotation price. Harvey Nichols was floated on the stock market at 270p-a-share in 1996.
The Deutsche Bank spokeswoman said yesterday that the company planned to meet Harvey Nichols tomorrow to "better understand why they think 250p is a fair price".
If Deutsche decides to reject Mr Poon's offer, it would effectively block the deal since his offer needs the support of 75 per cent of Harvey Nichols' minority shareholders. "Technically, we do have the ability to block the deal," the spokeswoman said. "They didn't sound us out before announcing this proposal and on the face of it, it looks like an unattractive price," she said.
Mr Poon, who is also Harvey Nichols' chairman, said last week that his offer represented "good and certain". "Due to its low market capitalisation and relative stock illiquidity, Harvey Nichols is not realising any material benefit from its listing," he said then.
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