Vandevelde to launch retail buyout fund

The Marks & Spencer chairman has unveiled plans for a £300m fund to invest in retail opportunities across Europe.

Marks & Spencer chairman Luc Vandevelde is to follow the lead of other retail professionals such as Philip Green who have moved to consolidate segments of the European retail sector, with a new fund targeting underperforming businesses within European retail.

 

The fund, which will be backed by the Halley family, one of France’s wealthiest families, will have £300m for the acquisition of European retail companies. UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph says that the fund, which will be launched in early 2003, could also raise capital from third parties.

 

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.

 

According to FT.com, Vandevelde will be joined in the new venture by a number of leading European practitioners, including Bain Capital’s European managing director Steven Petrow, Frederic Hufkens, the founder of Hufkens Asset Management and private equity investor Philip Renaud.

 

Vandevelde, who has been responsible for a revival in fortunes at the UK High Street retailer during his three year tenure as executive chairman, has planned to launch a private equity fund for a number of years. The venture will be based in the UK and has already obtained authorisation from the Financial Services Authority.

 

Vandevelde launches the fund after his role at M&S reverts to a part-time basis. Marks & Spencer today confirmed the fund launch, adding that the undertaking would not jeopardise Vandevelde’s role at the company. “The [M&S] board is aware of his plans and has taken steps to satisfy itself that the activity…is not in conflict with his role as chairman of Marks & Spencer,” the company said in a statement.

 

It is expected that around 40 per cent of his time will be committed to the new fund.