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Baugur plans Saks takeover to lead its assault on the US

A Baugur consortium is plotting a takeover bid for US department store Saks Fifth Avenue, marking the serial investor’s biggest strike across the pond, Drapers magazine exclusively reports.
Baugur chief executive Gunnar Sigurdsson and Baugur director Don McCarthy have been spotted in the US meeting with Saks’ management and scouting its stores, fuelling speculation that a takeover approach is imminent.

McCarthy, who is also executive chairman of Baugur’s House of Fraser business, is also believed to have met with Saks’ widely respected vice chairman and chief merchant Ron Frasch to talk about opportunities for the department store group.

Baugur already holds an 8.08% stake in Saks, but the consortium, which is thought to include Scottish tycoon Sir Tom Hunter, is believed to be ready to make a serious play for the business, spurred on by the weak dollar.

This week, reports also emerged in the US that Saks’ management was open to offers for the business.

A bid for the business, which has a market cap of US$2.68 billion (£1.32bn), would mark Baugur’s biggest and most ambitious takeover deal yet. It openly discussed its intentions to buy US retail businesses earlier this year and Baugur founder Jón sgeir Jóhannesson was promoted to executive chairman in June to lead US growth opportunities.

Acquiring Saks would give Baugur a means to roll out its Mosaic Fashions brands, which include Oasis, Karen Millen and Coast to the US.

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