Private equity interest for French furniture chain
Anglo-French electricals retailer Kesa, owner of Comet in the UK, is considering the sale of furniture chain BUT after private equity groups expressed interest.

BUT, which has 107 shops in France, has performed poorly in recent years, but is showing signs of recovery. The chain's 6 per cent profit rise last year and its property portfolio are thought to have attracted the interest of potential buyers, who are likely to pay about£340 million for the business.

Investment bank Lazard is assessing offers on Kesa's behalf and the group board is likely to consider the merits of a sale of BUT on Friday. Kesa said in a statement: 'Kesa confirms that it has received a number of indications of interest to acquire the business. These are in the very early stages of being evaluated and there can be no certainty a transaction will result.'

Pali International analyst Nick Bubb said: 'We don't think BUT is a quality business, but it does have£200 million of freehold property, so the mooted valuation range of£340 million to£540 million makes sense.'

Kaupthing analyst Matthew McEachran said: 'BUT has never been seen as core in the way that Comet and Darty are, given its position in the increasingly competitive French furniture market, so a disposal is definitely possible.'