South African retail tycoon Christo Wiese bought a 90% stake in British fashion retailer New Look. Christo bought New Look through the private equity vehicle Brait, paying Apax and Permira, the private equity owners of New Look since 2004, £780 million and taking on New Look’s debt obligations of around £1 billion. Altogether, the deal valued the high street retailer at around £1.9 billion. The remaining 10% stake will remain with existing senior management, and Tom Singh and family, who founded the high street chain in 1969.
Wiese has been keen to increase his investment firm Brait’s UK portfolio, and he was in talks to buy BHS last year before it was sold to a consortium instead. But after acquiring a 80% stake in the Virgin Active fitness chain in the previous month, the purchase of New Look constitutes Brait’s second big advance into the UK market.
The deal comes as a relief to New Look’s management who were looking to float the company on the stock market again in the attempt to reduce its debts of over £1 billion. Following the purchase, chief executive Anders Krisiansen will be kept on to implement plans for the retailer to expand overseas, especially in China where New Look already has a large presence.