The management of Swedish fashion company Gant is calling on shareholders to reject a US$811m takeover bid launched last month by Swiss retail group Maus Frères.

Gant said a "strong belief" persisted that the current business model was the best way forward for the company, creating shareholder value as a stand-alone entity and taking advantage of multiple growth opportunities to secure long-term profit growth.

Meanwhile, Maus Frères has taken its stake in the company to 23.7% with the acquisition through its Procastor subsidiary of 788,930 additional shares, representing 4.7% of Gant's shareholding.

The Swiss company launched its SEK5.2bn (US$811m) bid through Procastor last month, trumpeting its intention to invest in Gant's geographical expansion through global marketing aimed at the US and Japanese marketplaces.

But Gant chairman Lennart Björk said the board of directors believed strongly in the future development of the company as a stand-alone concern.

"The current business model, using franchisees in the establishment of new and the development of existing markets has proven itself again and again," he added. "Gant's track record in delivering profits, cash flow and shareholder returns, in combination with exciting growth prospects, are the basis for our recommendation to shareholders to say no to Procastor's offer and support Gant as an independent company delivering value to all shareholders."

Björk also revealed new financial targets for Gant, forecasting a near-doubling of EBIT to SEK450m by 2010, increasing at an average annual rate of at least 15% in the following five-year period. The company also announced a new dividend policy to distribute at least 75% of net income to shareholders.