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New Look sale is unlikely this year

Young fashion chain New Look will not be sold before 2008, despite reports that buyout firm Blackstone has resumed talks with its private equity owners.

A source close to the retailer said last week's reports of an imminent sale were premature and that any deal or refinancing of the business is being held off until at least the New Year.

The management team are understood to have insisted they want to focus on trading the business through the crucial Christmas period without the distractions of the sale process. A good Christmas would also help management bolster the sale price.

The source said: "Of course there is no smoke without fire, but the team are now preparing for the Christmas season. They feel it is really important not to have any distractions at the moment."

New Look is owned by private equity firms Permira and Apax, which own a combined 60% of the retailer, along with the senior management team. They put the business up for sale earlier this year, but terminated the sale process in July after bids from private equity firms Blackstone, Texas Pacific, Warburg Pincus and BC Partners failed to reach the reserve price of £1.8 billion.

Refinancing the chain was also considered, but was dropped due to instability in the US debt market.

Both New Look and Blackstone were unavailable for comment.

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