AUSTRALIA: David Jones A$1.6bn takeover bid withdrawn
Australian department store retailer David Jones today (2 July) said a A$1.65bn offer from EB Private Equity (EBPE) had been withdrawn, just days after the takeover approach was made public.
The UK-based private equity firm made the offer for a 100% stake in the country's second largest department store operator on 29 June.
EBPE said the deal included $850m of equity provided by an EBPE-led consortium, $450m lending provided by a syndicate of banks, and $450m in residual equity for existing shareholders.
Last week, David Jones said no details of EBPE's financial capacity, or any of the terms of the residual equity had been made available.
But today, EBPE withdrew its proposal after saying that recent publicity around its proposal had made it difficult to proceed.
In a letter to the Australian Stock Exchange, David Jones said following the initial offer, it sought publicly available information about EBPE and was "unable to obtain any meaningful information" in relation to it. "This remains the case today," the retailer added.
It also said that given the highly conditional, uncertain and incomplete nature of the proposal, the retailer was "not in a position to give consideration to it".
David Jones said that in light of the withdrawal of the offer "no discussions are anticipated".
Given the lack of information available on EBPE, reports in the Australian press have suggested the offer might have been a hoax. However, EBPE chairman John Edgar told The Australian that the group's interest was real, saying the firm had put a lot of work into its offer and "would like to engage further".
He told the paper that the interest was focused on the retailer's property portfolio.
In March, David Jones slashed its full-year net profit expectations, forecasting a decline of between 35-40% on the prior year.
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