עלילת השלישייה לרכישת רכישה של 3.8 מיליארד ליש"ט על ההורה של פאונדלנד

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A former owner of Poundland has joined forces with two rival private equity firms to plot a takeover of the discount retailer’s parent company that could value it at more than €4.5bn (£3.8bn).

Sky News has learnt that Advent International, which offloaded Poundland for £200m a decade ago, has teamed up with Hellman & Friedman and Mid Europa Partners to prepare a blockbuster bid for Pepco Group.

City sources said the consortium was being advised by bankers at Rothschild on its prospective offer for the giant European retail group.

The company trades under the PEPCO brand in eastern European countries
Image:
The company trades under the PEPCO brand in eastern European countries

The group comprising Advent, H&F and Mid Europa is not certain to make a formal offer but is understood to be serious about its interest in Pepco.

The retailer, which trades under the brands Pepco and Dealz in more than a dozen Eastern European countries, has a total of 2,700 stores.

Employing more than 33,000 people, the company has set a target of reaching 4,000 outlets as it seeks to become Europe’s biggest discount variety retailer.

The group is run by Andy Bond, the former Asda chief executive, and has said it plans to open up to 300 shops annually, predominantly under the PEPCO brand.

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Mr Bond said last year that the renaming of the company from Pepkor Europe was an important step towards building greater recognition for its flagship brand.

He said that earnings for the year we’re expected to rise by nearly 20%.

“Our new name is more distinctive and clearly links the group to its largest operating company and source of future growth,” he said last autumn.

“Following a successful refinancing and with a clear, focused strategy in place, we remain well positioned to continue our growth and deliver our ambition to become Europe’s pre-eminent discount variety retail business.”

Interest from the Advent-led consortium in a takeover of Pepco Group establishes a credible alternative to an initial public offering, which Steinhoff International, the current owner, has been exploring for several months.

Steinhoff recently appointed Numis Securities to work alongside Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan on a listing, with London and Warsaw the likely locations if it goes public.

If it does decide to float, it would mark a return to the equity markets for Poundland, which was taken private by Steinhoff in July 2016 in a deal worth just over £600m.

However, Steinhoff, a South African retail conglomerate, found itself mired in an accounting scandal little more than a year later, leading to its near-collapse.

It has since sold Harveys and Bensons for Beds, two other chains it owned, to Alteri Investors.

Partners Group, another private equity firm, is also reportedly considering a bid for Pepco, although it would be unlikely to try to acquire the whole company by itself.

A source close to the process insisted on Monday that no final decision had been made by Steinhoff.

They added that bids of between €4.5bn and €5bn were likely to be necessary to persuade Steinhoff to abandon an IPO.

The trading environment for some of Poundland’s UK rivals has proved tough in recent years, with Poundworld collapsing into administration in 2018.

Spokesmen for Pepco, Advent and Mid Europa declined to comment.

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