Iran General NewsTop Woolworths investor says no to £50m takeover offer

Top Woolworths investor says no to £50m takeover offer

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ImageSunday Times: Woolworths' biggest shareholder has thrown his weight behind management in rejecting Malcolm Walker’s £50m takeover approach, while refusing to deny that he is planning his own bid for the struggling retailer.

The Sunday Times

Ben Marlow

ImageWOOLWORTHS’ biggest shareholder has thrown his weight behind management in rejecting Malcolm Walker’s £50m takeover approach, while refusing to deny that he is planning his own bid for the struggling retailer.

Iranian property tycoon Ardeshir Naghshineh, who has built up a 10.2% stake in the firm, told The Sunday Times: “Walker is well respected but the board rejected the bid and rightly so. It’s not a good deal for Woolies or shareholders.”

Walker, founder of the Iceland frozen-food chain, has proposed a deal that would see his consortium – backed by Icelandic retail investor Baugur, also a Woolworths shareholder – take its 815 stores but leave the parent company with a near-£100m pension deficit and most of its £120m debt.

“It doesn’t leave much,” said Naghshineh. “The opportunity goes if the deal happens . . . and the liabilities are left. What is the deal for the rest of the shareholders? What are they left with?”

However, the entrepreneur, who has his own property company, Targetfollow, which is backed by Bank of Scotland, refused to dampen speculation that he was considering a rival bid for Woolworths.

City sources claim that Naghshineh has approached a number of hedge funds about forming a rival consortium, including Absolute Capital Management.

“I am interested in the business but I can’t comment further,” Naghshineh responded.

He added that there was greater value in Woolworths stores than Walker’s approach suggested. “They have 815 stores in great locations that other retailers dream about.”

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