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Shareholder fury as Baugur circles Moss

Moss Bros shareholders have reacted angrily to Icelandic investor Baugur’s statement that it is considering a bid for the group and called for the immediate appointment of a new chairman.

Baugur and retail entrepreneur Kevin Stanford hold about a 29% stake in Moss Bros via their Unity investment fund. Baugur is expected to make an offer of about 40p per share for the business, valuing it at around £40 million.

But key shareholders told Drapers they would not accept the off er, saying it undervalued a business that “has obvious opportunities for quick wins”.

They demanded a new chairman be appointed immediately to represent their interests. Current chairman Keith Hamill resigned last month and will step down in April.

Any Baugur bid could falter if the founding Moss and Gee families, which own a significant stake in the company, block it. Last year Moss family members snubbed a rumoured 80p-a share bid from Baugur.

One shareholder said: “I don’t underestimate how tough the market is, but basic mistakes have allowed the business to underperform. There’s more than £15m of cash in the business and the stock must be worth another £15m – that’s £30m of assets before we’ve started.”

Another shareholder said: “There doesn’t seem to be any strategy to put the core Moss chain right. Baugur put two people on the board earlier this year. Since then, the share price has collapsed and we are asking why.”

Baugur, which is the largest single shareholder in Moss Bros, is also thought to be disappointed with performance at the chain, which has prompted it to review its option for the holding.

However, it is understood that any takeover deal for Moss Bros would not guarantee Baugur ownership of the lucrative Hugo Boss franchise operation.

● Laura Ashley surprised the market by acquiring a 3.4% stake in Moss Bros as Drapers went to press.

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