The billionaire tycoon told Retail Week that, while he was not actively seeking acquisitions: “If people want to offer us something to sell, we are in a position to buy.”
Baugur’s collapse paves the way for potential ownership changes among its brands.
If Baugur goes into administration, shareholdings in brands including House of Fraser, Mosaic, Hamleys, Iceland and jewellery group Aurum will fall into the hands of creditors including Landsbanki. It will be up to them to decide the fate of stakes, but majority shareholders will be given pre-emption rights.
Others are likely to be watching the situation, however. “If there is a good management team on board, private equity is likely to be interested,” said one source.
However, sources maintained that in the current climate, when deals have all but dried up, many may not be in a position to snap up the stakes.
Although cash-rich investors are few and far between, contenders other than Green may include Alchemy Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Blackstone and Permira – all thought to have expressed an interest in Baugur businesses.
Alchemy boss Jon Moulton told Retail Week that he was interested in Baugur’s assets but declined to comment further.
Investor Sir Tom Hunter – who owns Wyevale Garden Centres, in which Baugur has a stake – said that he would watch developments “with interest” and “consider our position with pre-emption”.
However, creditors may want to retain Baugur stakes until the market improves. One source said that Baugur’s circumstances have not changed in practical terms since it was among those embroiled in Iceland’s financial collapse in October.
He said: “Investors have the option to talk to Baugur or whoever owns the equity. They [the administrators] can take a valuation of the business. Essentially it is just a change in shareholdings.”
But another source was convinced changes would result. He said: “It will be a case of when the wheel stops, who grabs what?”