Nov 12, 2008
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Philip Green buys Moss Bros stake

Nov 12, 2008

LONDON (Reuters) - Philip Green, the billionaire owner of Bhs department stores and the Arcadia group of fashion companies, said he has purchased a 28 percent stake in Moss Bros and was considering making an offer for the mens fashion retailer.

A notification to the stock exchange Wednesday said Green's vehicle, Warbeck Holding Company, spent 6.7 million pounds on 26.9 million shares at 24.95 pence a share -- a 58.5 percent premium to Tuesday's closing price of 15.75 pence -- sending Moss Bros shares up 46 percent.

"Warbeck is considering its alternatives in relation to Moss Bros, which include making an offer for the remaining shares it does not already own, however there can be no guarantee that any offer will be made," the notification said.

The block of shares equates to a 28 percent stake previously held in the company by Kaupthing Bank on behalf of fellow Icelandic investor Baugur, which in May abandoned plans for a 40 million pound bid for Moss Bros.

Moss Bros' other shareholders include Laura Ashley, the British fashion and homewares retailer, with about 10 percent.

Last month Green held talks with Baugur, Icelandic banks and the government of the north Atlantic island to acquire much of Baugur's debt, estimated at over 1 billion pounds.

Buying Baugur's debt would give Green considerable influence over the group's British fashion interests, which include Jane Norman, Whistles and a 49 percent share in Mosaic Fashions -- owner of Oasis, Principles, Karen Millen, Warehouse and Coast -- as well as supermarket chain Iceland and toy store Hamleys.

Baugur also owns stakes in retailers Debenhams, Woolworths and French Connection. Baugur's sale of the Moss Bros holding will increase speculation it may look to liquidate other investments.

At 11:06 a.m. shares in Moss Bros were up 7.25 pence at 24 pence, valuing the business at 22 million pounds.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Victoria Bryan)

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