Liberty sold to Wigley’s BlueGem for £32m in private equity deal

DEPARTMENT store Liberty was yesterday sold for £32m to a team of former City bankers.

BlueGem Capital Partners, founded by former bankers at Merrill Lynch’s private equity unit, including Bob Wigley, has bought Liberty in a deal valuing the company’s shares at about 141.8 p.

Liberty was majority-owned by MWB Holdings, the hotel group that owns the Malmaison chain.

Wigley is former chairman of Merrill Lynch’s business in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Emilio Di Spiezio Sardo is a second BlueGem partner. He joined the firm in 2007 after spending more than six years in investment banking at Merrill.

Hawkpoint Partners advised BlueGem on the deal, while Cavendish Corporate Finance advised Liberty.

Liberty’s world-famous prints were last year given a modern twist by Turner prize-winning artist Grayson Perry.

The company has also been using cutting edge designers as part of a strategy to freshen up its fashion ranges. The deal is the biggest yet for BlueGem.

The 135-year-old Regent Street store saw sales rise by 40 per cent this year despite the economic downturn which hit the high street.