Steinhoff tables rival $975 mn bid for British electrical retailer Darty

South Africa's Steinhoff International yesterday gate-crashed an already agreed deal and tabled a $975 million competing bid for British electrical retailer Darty Plc.

Steinhoff, based in Johannesburg, has 6,500 retail outlets under 40 retail brands in 30 counties and employs around 90,000 people. It owns Bensons for Beds and Harveys in the UK and Conforama in France.

Steinhoff's French unit Conforama has offered to pay 125 pence per share in cash, valuing Europe's third-largest electrical goods retailer at £673 million ($975.72 million), a 54 per cent premium to 29 September 2015, before any potential bidders emerged for Darty.

Fnac's cash and share offer valued Darty at around £615 million.

Steinhoff's move comes on the same day it pulled out from a bidding war with Sainsbury's, UK's second-largest supermarket chain, for Argos-owner Home Retail. (See: Sainsbury's wins Argos-owner Home Retail after Steinhoff pulls out)

Conforama believes that the successful completion of the deal with Darty's will create a leading French household goods retailer, operating under well established and complementary retail brands.

Conforama envisages that the enlarged retail offer would benefit both sets of customers in furniture and household goods and electronics, and will create an exciting opportunity for Darty management and employees to join Conforama, one of Europe's leading household goods retailers, with a strong French focus.

Conforama's offer is subject to certain pre-conditions, including satisfactory completion of due diligence.

Commenting on the offer, Alexandre Nodale, CEO of Conforama, said, "The Offer represents an attractive opportunity for both companies to develop their combined footprint, particularly in France, through an expanded offering of household goods and complementary products for the end consumer.''

''Significant value would also be unlocked through scale benefits in terms of the resultant combined purchasing volumes, logistics and multichannel distribution,'' he added.

Alan Parker, non-executive chairman of Darty said in a statement, "unless Fnac announces a higher and deliverable offer, the board currently intends to recommend the offer to Darty shareholders."

Darty is a multi-channel electrical retailer trading from over 400 stores and websites.  It operates as Darty and in France, Vanden Borre in Belgium and BCC in the Netherlands.

It has 222 stores and 43 franchises in France and 75 BCC stores and 60 Vanden Borre stores in Belgium and the Netherlands.

It operates under the ABRA, Conforama, Emmezeta, LIPO and POCO brands in Europe, Bensons for Beds, Harveys in the UK, Freedom, Snooze   and POCO in Australasia, and Hardware Warehouse, Hi Fi Corp, Incredible Connection, JD furniture brands, POCO, Pennypinchers, The Tile House, Timbercity in Africa.

Conforama is Europe's second-largest home furnishings retail chain with over 200 stores in France, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Italy and Croatia.