Shares in Darty have soared by nearly 10 per cent this morning after South African retail conglomerate Steinhoff International made a £662m offer for the UK-listed electrical chain – a move that could scupper its already agreed sale to French rival Fnac.
Darty said it has received a cash offer of 125 pence per share from the owner of the France-based furniture chain Conforama. The offer is 8.5 per cent above yesterday's closing price.
The company already accepted an offer from French electronics retailer Fnac in November that valued Darty at around £558m. Fnac's proposal includes 37 Darty shares for every one Fnac share as well as a small cash alternative.
Steinhoff's bid comes just two weeks after it made a similar last-minute move on Home Retail Group by trumping Sainsbury's 161.3p a share offer for the Argos-owner at a higher 175p per share and valuing the company at £1.4bn.
The company is majority owned by South African billionaire businessman Christo Weise, who has been one of the most acquisitive players in the UK retail and leisure sector in recent years.
In May last year, Weise's private equity vehicle Brait bought fashion chain New Look for £780m, just two months after its £628m acquisition of a near 80 per cent stake in gym chain Virgin Active. He also upped his stake in Iceland Foods in October to 57 per cent and is also backing a new family fashion chain Pep & Co, being led by former Asda boss Andy Bond.
Darty said it is currently reviewing the proposal and will make a further statement "if and when appropriate", adding that there was no certainty that a formal offer by Conforama would be made. Shareholders have been advised to take no action.
Liberum retail analysts said: "While there is a risk that neither deal will close, we look more favourably on the Steinhoff deal but suspect that a bidding war or more entrants may now look at Darty. We suspect that the appetite to internationalise Steinhoff and move the group away from its domestic currency could suggest that a higher price may be achievable. We still feel a value of 160p better reflects the long term value, recovery opportunity and strategic strength of the Darty business."