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Weston Group bid for Arnotts given green light

The Weston Group’s offer to buy half of Dublin department store Arnotts has been cleared by the Irish Competition Authority.

The green light means that the bid by Wittington Investments, the holding company for both The Weston Group and Selfridges Group, to buy €140m worth (£115m) of loans owed by Arnotts to Ulster Bank, has gone through today.

This opens up the possibility that the group could ultimately take full ownership of the department store.

The Irish Competition Authority (ICA) said it had carried out an “intensive and extended” investigation, which included ongoing contact with the parties, obtaining the views of competitors, suppliers and concessionaires, and a survey of 500 Arnotts customers. 

Based on the information obtained, the ICA decided the transaction, in which the business will take control of 50% of the city centre store, would not lead to a “substantial lessening of competition” in the Irish market.

The Weston Group also owns Irish department store Brown Thomas and is a major shareholder in Penneys/Primark parent company Associated British Foods, while Arnotts owns Boyers & Co in Dublin, one of Ireland’s oldest department stores.

In its submission to the ICA, The Weston Group said it would invest and develop the 170-year-old store and its “peripheral properties”.

It is now expected that The Weston Group and its partner, property company Fitzwilliam Finance, will try to buy out US investment arm Apollo, which owns the other half of Arnotts.

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