Belfast Telegraph

House of Fraser plans flotation

Department store chain House of Fraser is pushing ahead with plans for a stock market flotation as a raft of UK firms rush to go public, it has been reported.

The group, which has 61 sites across Britain and Ireland, is expected to appoint investment bankers to advise on a listing in the next few weeks, The Sunday Times said.

It is thought the group may look to launch its initial public offering (IPO) early next year and could be valued at between £300 million and £400 million.

A growing list of companies are understood to be mulling flotations to tap into buoyant financial markets, including sofa retailer DFS, Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments and online takeaway service Just-Eat.

House of Fraser's IPO would mark a return to the stock market for the group after an absence of more than seven years.

The 161-year-old business has had a tumultuous time since the financial crisis, with 49% of the group owned by representatives of failed Icelandic banks, who took control of the shares when previous owner Baugur went bust.

Executive chairman Don McCarthy and his family also hold a 20% stake, while o ther big shareholders include Scottish tycoon Tom Hunter and Lloyds Banking Group, which inherited its stake after HBOS helped finance Baugur's takeover deal.

The retailer, which generates sales of £1.2 million a year and employs 7,300 people as well as 12,000 concession staff, has also been the subject of takeover speculation in the past year.

It is believed to have held takeover talks with Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley and the Qatari royal family before setting its sights on a return to public ownership.

The chain first listed on the stock market in 1948 and remained a public company until it was bought by Mohamed al-Fayed in 1985.

It was listed again in 1994 before being snapped up in 2006 by a group of investors led by Icelandic tycoon Jon A sgeir Johannesson's Baugur Group in a £350 million deal.

Other chains in the Baugur portfolio included toy store Hamleys and frozen foods chain Iceland.

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