Mar 23, 2009
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Voegele shares jump on break-up hopes, board moves

Mar 23, 2009

ZURICH (Reuters) - Shares in Swiss clothing retailer Voegele (VCH.S) jumped on Monday after the company's chairman and vice chairman said they were stepping down under pressure from shareholders, stirring break-up talk.

Voegele Spring 2009

Voegele, which operates 851 stores across Europe, said Bernd Bothe and Felix Ehrat would not stand for re-election as chairman and vice-chairman at the annual general meeting on April 1 and two other board members would also not stand again.

The decision comes after a shareholder group that includes Laxey Partners, Cheyne Capital Management, Sterling Strategic Value and other major shareholders said they would not support the re-election of Bothe and Ehrat.

"These decisions will save the company unnecessary arguments. Group management and the remaining members of the board will then be able to concentrate on the company's future," Voegele said in a statement.

The group's shares, which lost 70 percent of their value last year, were up 10 percent at 32 Swiss francs at 1029 GMT, having earlier touched 33.20 francs.

Kepler Capital Markets analyst Jon Cox noted that the Swiss press has reported that the shareholder group might want to break up Voegele, disposing of units in Germany and the Benelux, and selling the rest to Swiss retail cooperative Migros.

Voegele, which has been struggling in the economic downturn, reported 2008 net sales of 1.369 billion Swiss francs ($1.22 billion).

($1=1.119 Swiss Franc)

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by Simon Jessop)

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