Poundland accepts £597m takeover bid from South Africa's Steinhoff
Discount chain Poundland is to be snapped up by South African retailer Steinhoff International after agreeing a £597 million takeover deal.
Poundland accepted the 222p-a-share bid after rejecting a cash offer from Steinhoff last month for an undisclosed sum.
The deal comes after Steinhoff - which owns UK furniture firm Harveys and Bensons For Beds - recently lost out in a battle with Sainsbury's to buy Argos owner Home Retail Group in March and was outbid for London-listed white goods retailer Darty.
The sale price, which also includes a 2p-a-share final dividend on top of the 220p-a-share bid, marks around a 40% premium to the value of Poundland's shares in mid-June.
It follows a hefty slump in Poundland's shares over the past year after tough trading and a difficult takeover of rival 99p Stores.
Annual results recently laid bare Poundland's sales woes as underlying pre-tax profits fell 13.5% to £37.8 million in the year to March 27, while bottom-line pre-tax profits crashed 83.7% to £5.9 million, including converted 99p Stores.
Steinhoff had already built up a 23.6% stake in Poundland in recent weeks as it stepped up its pursuit of the set-price retailer.
Darren Shapland, chairman of Poundland, said the deal gives investors an "opportunity to realise their shareholding at a certain and attractive price".
He said it achieved the share price value targeted under its turnaround plan earlier than could be expected "against a background of increasing economic uncertainty in the UK and a more challenging trading environment".
Steinhoff chief executive Markus Jooste said: "The board of Steinhoff and its management team are enthusiastic about the opportunities that this transaction brings: we believe that there is significant merit in bringing Poundland into Steinhoff's global network.
"Steinhoff is developing a fast-growing, price-led retail business across the UK and the rest of Europe. Poundland would be a complementary fit to this growth story."
He added that management at Poundland would continue to play a "key role" after the takeover and said he looked forward to "welcoming" the chain's employees.
Poundland has around 18,000 staff across more than 900 stores and is headquartered in Willenhall, near Wolverhampton.
Steinhoff said it had no plans to change the group's head office or employment conditions for staff.
It marks an eventful start at the top for Poundland's new boss, Kevin O'Byrne, after he took the reins earlier this month.
The former B&Q UK and Ireland head took over from predecessor Jim McCarthy on July 1, having joined as chief executive-designate in April.
Retail analysts at Liberum said Steinhoff had offered a "knock-out price".
They added: "The recommended cash offer is a good result for Poundland shareholders and comes at a time when there was more downside risk than upside in our view."
Steinhoff has been determined to expand further across Europe, having tried and failed to gatecrash two deals in recent months.
It is backed by South African retail billionaire Christo Wiese, whose Brait investment group also owns controlling stakes in Virgin Active, New Look and food chain Iceland.
Steinhoff also owns Conforama in France, as well as a number of retailers across Europe, Australasia and Africa.
Mr Shapland told the Press Association that Steinhoff's bid was an "attractive offer", in particular since the EU referendum result has sent retail stocks plunging.
But the 222p-a-share total offer is far below the 421p level shares hit in early 2015, before its trading woes weighed heavy on the stock.
Mr Shapland said: "You can only go with what's in front of you and w e think it's attractive in terms of what's been going on in the market."
Mr Shapland added that Steinhoff has a good track record of investing and growing businesses and is expected to keep the Poundland brand on the high street.
"They keep well-loved brands and Poundland is a well-loved brand," he said.
Shares in Poundland leapt 12% higher after the takeover announcement.
Mr McCarthy, who clocked up a 10-year tenure as chief executive, is in line for a £22 million windfall for his 3.7% stake in Poundland.
The group listed for £750 million or 300p a share i n March 2014, with the stock surging by nearly a fifth on flotation day.
But its shares have plunged in value over the last year due to trading woes, competition from discounters such as Aldi and Lidl and its £ 55 million takeover of 99p Stores, which has also proved to be far from smooth.
It finally received the all-clear for the deal from the competition watchdog last September, but Mr McCarthy has since admitted that 99p Stores was ''in a mess'' when it was handed over.