Buyout Firms Jostle for Discount Retailer Matalan

LONDON (Reuters) – Private equity firms are vying to get on a shortlist of potential buyers for discount retailer Matalan, which could fetch up to 1.5 billion pounds ($2.46 billion), sources familiar with the matter said.

European buyout house CVC kicked off interest in the retail empire majority-owned by founder John Hargreaves and has since been followed by other private equity suitors, including TPG and Cinven, sources said.

Advent International, whose investments include British budget store chain Poundland and German fashion retailer Takko, is also hoping to make it on the shortlist, another source said.

The buyout firms and Matalan declined to comment.

Matalan has not kicked off a formal process but has asked long-term adviser PWC to investigate a possible sale, which could see a short field of potential buyers assembled.

“(PWC) wants to invite people into quite a tight process,” said a source, adding he expected a sale to kick off this quarter.

Despite the flurry of interest from buyout houses, some were sceptical the business could achieve the 1.5 billion pound valuation. A source close to one of the potential bidders said the figure was too high.

Bankers expect Blackstone (BX.N) and KKR will be interested in the business. Both firms declined to comment.

PWC confirmed it was working on a possible sale but declined to comment on the process. (Additional reporting Victoria Howley; editing by Jon Loades-Carter) ($1=.6107 Pound)