KKR weighs up Dutch retailer

The US private equity house is considering a public-to-private offer for Dutch retailer Vendex KBB.

US private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), currently one of the more active investors in the European buyout market, is rumoured to be considering a move from Dutch non-food retailer Vendex KBB.

The firm, which was last month linked to a possible offer for UK food retailer Big Food Group, is looking at a possible outright bid for the retailer, according to a report on MergerMarket.

Vendex is attractive to potential bidders because it trades on price/earnings multiple times six, a considerable discount to its European peers outside Holland. In the six months to July 31, the firm reported turnover of E2.4bn. The business currently has a market capitalisation of E780m.

The likelihood of an offer for Vendex also increased when it emerged that Guy Wyser-Pratte, an aggressive US investor often associated with break-up bids, has built up a stake in the company and has lobbied for it to dismantle what he views as its anti-takeover structure.

Vendex has already been the subject of private equity interest in 2002. In May, CVC paid E394m for six retail divisions, including discount shoe retailer Scapino, as part of Vendex’s plan to simplify its structure and to focus more on DIY following the acquisition of Belgian homecare retailer Brico in March for E505m.

European retail has proved an attraction to buyout firms in Europe in 2002. In addition to recent deals completed by CVC in Spain (El Arbol) and the UK (Halfords, Kwik Fit), there have been reports of possible interest in UK supermarket chain Safeway.