South Africa’s Steinhoff raises Darty stake to 20.4 percent



South Africa’s Steinhoff has increased its stake in Darty to 20.4 percent, it announced after a frantic bidding war with French rival Fnac for Europe’s third-largest electric goods retailer.
Five new offers in less than 24 hours lifted Darty shares by more than 23 percent this week to their highest since the end of 2010 and left South African furniture retailer Steinhoff in front with a cash offer of 160 pence a share, valuing Darty at 860 million pounds ($1.2 billion).
Fnac said that it is considering its position after Steinhoff’s latest offer and urged Darty shareholders to take no action. The Fnac announcement came shortly after Steinhoff, a 20 billion euro ($22.6 billion) company listed in both Johannesburg and Frankfurt, said it had acquired an additional 4.8 million shares in London-listed Darty at 160 pence each.
Shares in Darty were trading at 162.75 pence, off an earlier high of 165.50 pence but still suggesting that some investors expect a little more to come from the company’s suitors.
Darty earns 70 percent of its revenue in France but has 400 stores across Europe and competes with Media-Saturn, owned by Germany’s Metro, and Britain’s Dixons.
The company has become a target for different reasons, among which are Fnac’s desire to reduce its reliance on sales in areas such as books and CDs.
For Steinhoff, the deal would help it to bulk up in Europe, where it already makes more than two thirds of its 9.8 billion euros ($11 billion) of annual sales, as its domestic market deteriorates.
Steinhoff’s European brands include Conforama in France, Bensons for Beds and Harvey’s in Britain, as well as Abra in Poland.
Steinhoff International is a leading South African-based international retail holding company, dealing mainly in furniture and household goods, which
operates in Europe, Africa and Australasia.
Steinhoff was founded in 1964 by Bruno Steinhoff in Westerstede, Germany and moved its headquarters to South Africa in 1998. It went public on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
In the UK, Steinhoff owns the high street brands Cargo, Harveys Furniture, Bensons for Beds and Sleepmaster.
In 2011, Steinhoff bought Conforama, Europe’s second largest retailer of home furnishings, with over 200 stores in France, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Italy and Croatia.

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