Liberty sale under dispute

Steve Dinneen
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A BITTER spat has broken out over the sale of department store Liberty.

The changing of hands of the iconic brand appeared to be a done deal when the Liberty board recommended shareholders accept a bid of 186p a share from private equity vehicle BlueGem.

But rival bidder Pyrrho, which had a 185p a share bid knocked back earlier this month, has claimed it was not given a chance to up its offer.

Pyrrho says BlueGem’s bid undervalues the firm and does not offer shareholder value.

A statement released by the firm said: “Pyrrho would like to express its dissatisfaction with the bidding process for Liberty and that it was deprived of the opportunity to increase the possible Pyrrho offer.

“This is materially to the detriment of Liberty shareholders as Pyrrho would have made a further higher offer for Liberty on or before 7 May 2010 if it had been given the opportunity to do so.

Pyrrho is controlled by retail and property magnate Paul Cummins. The investor also owns a 21 per cent stake in MWB Holdings, which held most of Liberty’s stock. It also owns the hotel group responsible for the Malmaison chain.

Liberty completed the £41.5m sale of its mock-Tudor building in March, which it then leased back.