Overseas suitors are circling BHS in a bid to tempt retail tycoon Sir Philip Green into parting with the department store chain, it has been reported.
Leading the list of potential bidders is Christo Wiese, who is South Africa's third richest man with a fortune estimated at £2 billion. Others thought to be interested in the struggling UK chain include US private equity firm Apollo and a number of retail turnaround firms, the Sunday Times said.
Sir Philip, whose empire also includes Topshop and Topman, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, bought BHS for £200 million in 1999. The chain has been weighed down by expensive leases and a pension fund deficit but is still a force on the high street with 180 stores and annual sales of £700 million.
Mr Wiese is believed to have put BHS at the top of his list of potential British retail targets, having previously owned Leeds-based Brown & Jackson, which was the home for budget names such as Poundstretcher.
His existing retail interests include supermarket chain Shoprite and Pepkor, a South African clothing and footwear giant. He has teamed up with former Asda chief executive Andy Bond and is expected to travel to London this week to step up his interest in BHS.