New Look acquired by Christo Wiese’s Brait investment firm for £780m

New Look, a British global fashion retailer with a chain of high street stores, has been acquired by South African billionaire Christo Wiese through his equity company Brait SA in a deal worth £780 million.

According to Forbes, Mr. Wiese is the 367th richest person in the world, and the third wealthiest individual in South Africa.

The Weymouth-based retailer, which has more than 1,000 stores in twenty-one countries across the world, is selling a c.90% interest to Brait. The rest of the company will be owned by the family of Tom Singh, who founded the business in 1969, as well as other senior management.

Brait New Look acquisition

New Look’s CEO Anders Kristiansen, its CFO Mike Iddon, and CCO Roger Wightman, will remain with the Company.

New Look is being sold by buyout firms Permira and Apax, which took their stakes in 2004. The deal also includes approximately £1 billion of debt.

New Look had planned to float on the London Stock Exchange five years ago. However, the move was postponed due to turmoil in the financial markets. Analysts have ever since been wondering when the company would look at another IPO attempt.

Brait says it was attracted by New Look’s strong earnings, its presence in the UK high street, and growth prospects in China, a priority market, as well as Poland, Germany and France.

 

Anders Kristiansen, New Look’s current CEO, will remain at the helm of the business, Brait informed.

John Gnodde, CEO of Brait, said:

“New Look is an attractive investment opportunity for Brait – it is a market leading brand, with a strong track record of double digit EBITDA growth, solid Cashflow conversion, international reach, and the potential to grow rapidly in a number of geographic markets including China.”

“We have been highly impressed with the management team and look forward to partnering with them.”

Mr. Kristiansen added:

“We are delighted to have announced this transaction. Brait have a track record of long-term and supportive investments – they give us the perfect platform to continue our strategy of growing the New Look brand in the UK, Europe and China.”

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our existing shareholders for their support over the years, and I am looking forward to working with Brait in the future.”

Over the last few years, Mr. Wiese has been linked to a series of retail acquisitions, including a bid for BhS, the department chain formerly owned by Sir Philip Green.

In April, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and private equity firm CVC Capital Partners agreed to sell an 80% stake in gym chain Virgin Active to Brait for £682 million.

Mr. Wiese is currently in the process of launching a new discount fashion chain (Pep & Co) in the UK through another of his investment vehicles – Pepkcor – with Andy Bond, who was Asda’s CEO until 2010.

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