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Hitt og þetta 21. apríl 2006

(IFN) Baugur, Hunter in GBP311M move on British Wyevale

London (IFN) UK-based gardening supplier Wyevale Garden Centres has accepted GBP310.9 million cash offer from a consortium of investors, including Icelandic retail investor Baugur and Scottish entrepreneur Tom Hunter, the company said in a statement on Friday.

The enterprise value of the deal is worth just over GBP445 million, including debt, and it is understood that Bank of Scotland will help fund the agreed acquisition.

Wyevale, which is the UK's largest garden centres group, said the 555-pence a share offer from the consortium presented an 11% premium to the company's closing price on January 16, when it announced the possibility of a bid.

The consortium, which is called WCC Hortis, includes Baugur and TBH Trading, a wholly-owned subsidiary of private equity group West Coast Capital, which is controlled by Tom Hunter

West Coast Capital 14.99% stake in Wyevale from private equity group Laxey Partners at 555 pence per share in February.

Wyevale reported a drop in pre-tax profit in 2005 of GBP20.7 million, before exceptional stock write offs, compared to 2004.

Sales were down 14.6% in the first 15 weeks of this year, the company said, but added that the board of Wyevale is confident that the business is well placed, and with the appropriate investment can build on its strong position in the U.K. garden centre market

"Trading since the start of the year remains tough. Sales were down by 14.6% for the first 15 weeks of the year. These sales were impacted by the exceptionally cold weather in P3 (March) when sales were down 33.1% during this five week period," Wyevale said in a statement.

?P3 sales are particularly volatile dependent upon the season and impacted by the movement of Easter, contrasted by the increase in sales for the same five week period in 2004 of 48.9% and a decrease in sales in 2003 of 33.6%," it added.

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