The former chairman of jeweller Aurum is eager to regain control of the business and is talking to backers with a view to making a move for the company
Jurek Piasecki, who left the business in controversial circumstances in 2007, is understood to want to join the sale process for the business, which has an asking price of £200m.
He is understood to have access to finance and be talking to potential funding partners, although would only move if the price were to fall. But any move would face strong resistance from management following the bad blood that resulted from his departure from the business.
It is understood Piasecki wants to slim down the group - which trades as Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb and Watches of Switzerland - to focus on core towns with affluent customer to support those brands. Some observers speculated that he might be interested in acquiring Signet’s UK business to consolidate the multiple jewellery retail market in this country.
There has been speculation that Signet might hive off its UK business, including the Ernest Jones and H Samuel chains, to focus on its bigger and better performing US operations.
Piasecki faces a big obstacle, however, because Aurum’s management do not want to sell to him because
of the ill feeling that followed his departure.
Cavendish Corporate Finance partner Paul Herman, who is managing the sale process, said: “We have not received any approach from Jurek Piasecki. We are not in discussions and nor will we be in discussions with him.”
Sources close to the Aurum sale process - which follows the decision of Landsbanki’s administrators to sell its 65% stake - insisted it was going as planned and that “there are world-class private equity and trade buyers.” 17% of the business is owned by chairman Don McCarthy and the remainder by management.
It has been a consistently strong performer through the downturn, despite jewellery being the ultimate discretionary purchase. Earlier this year, it reported £16.1m EBITDA for the year ending January 30, on the back of 16.6% like-for-like growth.