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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 July, 2003, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Hamleys suitor raises offer
Hamleys shop front
Hamleys flagship store is on London's Regent Street
Icelandic retail group Baugur has raised its offer for Hamleys, upping the ante in the battle to take over the iconic London toy store.

Baugur, which is backing a buyout attempt by the store's management team, said on Thursday it had raised its cash offer for Hamleys from 226p to 254p per share, valuing the company at about 59m ($94.4m).

The increased offer comes in response to last week's 230p per share bid from rival suitor Children's Store Holdings, controlled by bookstore magnate Tim Waterstone.

Hamleys shares jumped on the news, climbing 8.2% to a five-year high of 252p in mid-afternoon trade.

Retail prize

A successful takeover attempt by Baugur would realise the Icelandic company's long-held ambition to win control of a UK retail business.

Baugur already has a 22% stake in Big Food Group - which owns the Iceland supermarket chain - and also owns shares in House of Fraser, Mothercare and JJB Sports.

Hamleys, which sells upmarket toys and games from outlets at Heathrow and Schipol airport in the Netherlands, as well as its flagship store on London's Regent Street, is seen as a prestigious retail asset.

The 200 year old toys store's fortunes have revived following a sharp downturn in the late 1990s, with pre-tax profits rising 35% to 5.6m in its most recent financial year.

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