Department store operator House of Fraser looked set to change hands last night after its directors backed an offer worth £351 million from Icelandic retail investor Baugur.
House of Fraser's 61-strong portfolio includes an own-name store in Birmingham, previously Rackhams, plus 11 Beatties stores in the Midlands.
The offer of 148p per share in cash represents a premium of 32.3 per cent over House of Fraser's average closing price in the 30 business days up to February 24 when the approach was announced.
Baugur, which already owns Hanleys, the Iceland food business and fashion brands Oasis and Coast, said it had no plans to close any HoF outlets and will press ahead with existing refurbishment deals.
Baugur has worked with footwear entrepreneur Don McCarthy, Halifax Bank of Scotland, Icelandic investment group FL Group and Kevin Stanford, the co-founder of Karen Millen, on the offer. House of Fraser said the terms agreed with Baugur gave shareholders a significant premium at a time of economic uncertainty.
It has been in talks with Baugur over a possible deal since the spring.
The Baugur consortium, named Highland, will give more details of its plans to boost HoF sales once it has carried out a review of space and product mix.
Analysts believe Baugur will use the chain as a showcase for the fashion brands it already owns or has stakes in, including Whistles and Karen Millen.
House of Fraser chairman Michael Wemms said the offer would allow shareholders to "crystallise" value and provided "certainty in an uncertain economic environment".
The Baugur chase came at a time when Fraser was struggling to overcome falling sales in a tough high street environment.
Fraser banked a 4.6 per cent rise in profits last year of £27.3 million.