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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February 2005, 15:27 GMT
Baugur: The iceman cometh
By Bill Wilson
BBC News business reporter

Hamleys is one of Baugur's best-known UK outlets
Icelandic venture capital group Baugur has been on something of a buying spree in the UK in recent years.

It is Iceland's biggest retailer and has been steadily extending its presence on the UK High Street.

On Wednesday it made a £1bn ($1.8bn) takeover approach for UK supermarket chain Somerfield, where it already holds a 5% stake.

If Baugur is successful with its bid, it will become the fifth biggest food retailer in the UK with a share of about 7.6%, behind Morrison, which bought Safeway in 2003.

Baugur is also days away from completing its takeover of struggling supermarket chain Big Food Group.

Big Food's outlets include Iceland, Booker cash-and carry outlets, and Woodward Foodservice.

'International investments'

Other recent Baugur acquisitions in the UK include jewellery chain Goldsmiths and fashion chains Karen Millen and Mk One.

However, in September 2004 - in a reverse of its usual policy - Baugur sold its 10% stake in department store group House of Fraser.

The hope would be for margin improvement through consolidation with Big Food Group
Paul Smiddy, Baird

Baugur describes itself as "an international investment company focusing on retailing investments and real estate operations in northern Europe".

Other assets owned by the company include Mosaic Fashions - which owns and operates the Oasis stores - Coast and Whistles.

Baugur also owns world famous London toy shop Hamleys and the health products chain Julian Graves.

It has also invested in the British real estate development company LXB Properties and BG Capital Investment firm.

Speciality goods

Baugur Group is also the largest shareholder in Magasin Du Nord department stores in Denmark.

At home in Iceland Baugur owns a large share in Hagar, the largest food and specialty goods retailer in Iceland.

Other domestic investments include holdings in the real estate company Stodir, the DIY retailer Húsasmiðjan, and media company Northern Lights.

Firms majority-owned by Baugur Group have a total turnover of £1bn and over 17, 000 employees.

President and chief executive of Baugur Group is Jon Asgeir Johannesson and chairman of the board of directors is Hreinn Loftsson.

Somerfield in £1bn takeover bid
09 Feb 05 |  Business
Baugur buys UK's Big Food Group
19 Dec 04 |  Business
Icelandic firm buys fashion chain
11 Nov 04 |  Business
House of Fraser holdings sold off
13 Sep 04 |  Business
Hamleys suitor raises offer
03 Jul 03 |  Business

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