Top Woolworths investor says no to GBP50m takeover offer

Times Online – Woolworths’ biggest shareholder has thrown his weight behind management in rejecting Malcolm Walker’s £50m takeover approach, while refusing to deny that he is planning his own bid for the struggling retailer.

Iranian property tycoon Ardeshir Naghshineh, who has built up a 10.2% stake in the firm, told The Sunday Times: “Walker is well respected but the board rejected the bid and rightly so. It’s not a good deal for Woolies or shareholders.”

Walker, founder of the Iceland frozen-food chain, has proposed a deal that would see his consortium – backed by Icelandic retail investor Baugur, also a Woolworths shareholder – take its 815 stores but leave the parent company with a near-£100m pension deficit and most of its £120m debt.

“It doesn’t leave much,” said Naghshineh. “The opportunity goes if the deal happens . . . and the liabilities are left. What is the deal for the rest of the shareholders? What are they left with?”

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