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Wednesday, 5 February, 2003, 10:45 GMT
Minerva set to land Allders
Allders
Allders has been at the centre of a takeover battle
Scottish retail entrepreneur Tom Hunter has bowed out of the race for department store group Allders, leaving the field clear for property company Minerva.

Mr Hunter has reportedly agreed to accept an improved offer of 164p a share, plus a 4% dividend, for the 11% stake he has built up in Allders.

The move puts an end to the prospect of a bidding war for the store group.

Minerva's previous bid of 160p a share had been accepted by Allders management.

No financial loss

But Mr Hunter, who has a personal fortune of 250m after selling his retail empire to JJB Sports, was able to block the deal through the stake he had built up in the company.

He decided to bow out of the race on Wednesday after talks between his investment vehicle West Coast Capital and Minerva about a joint bid reportedly came to nothing.

Under takeover rules, all Allders shareholders will benefit from Minerva's new and final offer, which values the group at 130.7m.

The deal is thought to be equivalent to the highest price Mr Hunter paid for Allders when he was building up a stake in the company, meaning he will not lose out financially.

His decision leaves Scarlett Retail with the support of 57.1% of Allders shareholders, making a deal almost certain to go-ahead.

Joint venture

Two weeks ago, Mr Hunter abandoned plans to takeover department store chain House of Fraser.

He was thought to be interested in merging parts of the two department store chains together in order to cut costs.

Scarlett is a joint venture between Minerva and investment bank Lehman Brothers, the investment bank, which owns 20%.

The remainder of the firm is divided equally between former Debenhams and BHS chief executive Terry Green, and Phil Cox, a former finance director of Asda.

Allders shares were up 1.9% in early trading at 161p.

Minerva buys, develops and leases office, retail, and industrial property in the UK, mainly in London.

Its portfolio includes Park Place in Croydon, which is set to be one of the UK's largest shopping centres.

See also:

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