House of Fraser 'mulls stock float'

House of FraserDepartment store chain House of Fraser is mulling a return to the stock market after an absence of nearly a decade, it has been reported.

The 161-year-old business, which has been the subject of takeover interest in the past year, could be valued at between £200 million and £300 million in a stock market flotation, the Sunday Times said.

Executive chairman Don McCarthy and his family hold a 20% stake with a further 49% in the hands of representatives of failed Icelandic banks, who took control of the shares when previous owner Baugur went bust.

The retail business, which generates sales of £1.2 billion a year, has 61 UK and Ireland stores covering nearly five million square feet of selling space. It employs 7,300 people as well as 12,000 concession staff.

House of Fraser, o ne of Britain's best known retailers, is believed to have held takeover talks in recent months with Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley and the Qatari royal family but is now considering a return to public ownership.

In 2006, it was snapped up by a group of investors led by Icelandic tycoon Jon Asgeir Johannesson's Baugur Group in a £350 million deal. Other chains in the Baugur portfolio included toy store Hamleys and frozen foods chain Iceland.

The report said the float plans were being led by Mr McCarthy but are at an early stage and may come to nothing. Other big shareholders include Scottish tycoon Tom Hunter and Lloyds Banking Group, which inherited its stake after HBOS helped finance Baugur's takeover deal.

The chain first listed on the stock market in 1948 and remained a public company until it was bought by Mohamed al-Fayed in 1985.

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