Dec 21, 2021
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Central and Signa 'close to' Selfridges takeover - report

Dec 21, 2021

Thailand-based Central Group may have denied that it's going to buy Selfridges, but UK press reports continue to link it to the takeover and suggest that a deal is on the verge of being signed.


The Times newspaper on Tuesday said that the £4 billion acquisition of the luxury department store business is close to being announced and that Central Group has linked with Austria's Signa Group for the deal.

And it also said that the sale could be revealed as soon as this week with all parties keen to wrap up the transaction before the New Year.

The company is currently owned by Canada's Weston family and has 25 stores worldwide. It was taken over by the family for £598 million in 2003 in a deal spearheaded by Galen Weston, who died in April.

Central Group is also a family-owned business with the billionaire Chirathivat family at the helm. And it already has strong business links to Signa. Most recently, they linked up in 2020 to buy Swiss department stores chain Globus in a 50:50 joint venture. Signa is controlled by its billionaire founder René Benko.

The newspaper said the arrangement for the Selfridges takeover is a similar one to Globus and that £2 billion of the purchase price is linked to Selfridges' property values. The inclusion of Signa is therefore important as it has strong real estate expertise.

That company also owns Berlin-based KaDeWe with Central Group and when Central’s Thai operations and its ownership of Italy’s La Rinascente are added into the mix, it would mean the new owners being a massive force in global department store retail.

It’s unclear whether former Selfridges CEO and current La Rinascente boss Vittorio Radice would have a direct role in Selfridges post-takeover, but the newspaper said he was “instrumental in the deal”. And it added that Anne Pitcher, the MD of Selfridges, “would continue to have an important role”.

None of the companies involved have commented on the new report yet and the last comment we had on the subject was that denial from Central Group several weeks ago.

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