Change Capital set for Robert Dyas deal

The private equity business set up by former Marks & Spencer chairman Luc Vandevelde is close to finalising its debut deal to acquire the UK retailer in a £60m deal.

Change Capital Partners, the start-up private equity business launched by Marks and Spencer chairman Luc Vandevelde last year, is close to announcing its debut deal with the acquisition of Robert Dyas, the UK-based household products retailer, in a deal valuing the business at £60 million ($113 million; €89 million).

Change Capital has reportedly lined up former Somerfield chief executive Alan Smith to lead the buyout, according to the Financial Times, which reports that confirmation of the deal is expected as early as next week.

Smith acted as interim chief executive of Esporta, the health club chain acquired by Duke Street Capital in 2002. He was chief executive of Somerfield from April 2000 until his departure in late 2002.

Robert Dyas recently reported strong Christmas sales, up 8.7 percent on the previous year. The company, which operates 75 stores across the UK, has annual sales of £70 million.

Last year, Change Capital secured a €300 million cornerstone investment from the Halley family, which has set aside another €700 million for co-investment. Vandevelde's links to the Halley family date back to his time at French retailer Promodes, where he was chief operating officer from 1995 to 1999. Promodes was acquired by Carrefour in 1999, giving the family an eleven per cent stake in the major French retailer.

Vandevelde last year reduced his role at M&S to a part-time basis to set up Change Partners with three other business partners: Steven Petrow, a former managing director of Bain Capital, Frederick Huftkens, the founder of Hufkens Asset Management and private equity investor Philip Renaud. Based in the UK, the team will focus on middle market deals up to €150 million in value.