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Liberty sale backed by shareholders

Liberty owner MWB has received shareholder backing for plans to sell its majority stake in the store to private equity firm BlueGem for £28.7m.

MWB, which acquired the stake in the luxury department store in July 2000, said in a statement that it had received 51.47% irrevocable undertakings to vote in favour of the 141.8p per share offer, which was agreed earlier this month.

The cash offer values the business at £32m but also includes a special dividend of 44.2p per share to be paid when the offer becomes unconditional. The aggregate offer price is £42m.

BlueGem announced the terms of the offer today to shareholders, who have until 1pm on June 22 to accept.

MWB will hold a general meeting on June 21 to approve the disposal.

The statement also denied that the company has received a formal offer for its stake from Pyrrho, the MWB shareholder, despite statements and press reports to the contrary. It said: “The board can confirm that, despite the impression that certain Shareholders may have gained, no formal offer for the Liberty Ordinary Shares has been made by Pyrrho.”

It is the latest salvo in an acrimonious exchange between the two companies. Last week Pyrrho, which has a 21% stake in MWB, hit back at claims that its offer was “highly conditional” and added that its aggregate bid remained a higher offer.

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