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Dickson Wins Bid for Nichols

LONDON — Dickson Poon has defeated Deutsche Bank in the battle over Harvey Nichols.<br><br>Broad Gain Investments, one of Poon’s companies, said in a statement to the London stock exchange on Thursday that the second bid for control...

LONDON — Dickson Poon has defeated Deutsche Bank in the battle over Harvey Nichols.

Broad Gain Investments, one of Poon’s companies, said in a statement to the London stock exchange on Thursday that the second bid for control — and eventual delisting — of the Knightsbridge retailer was successful.

The statement said that Broad Gain had received approval earlier this week from shareholders representing 53.49 percent of the stock held by the public. Under the terms of the offer — $3.85 a share — Broad Gain needed approval from shareholders representing 50 percent of the publicly held stock.

A spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank said that given the outcome of the second bid, the bank will be forced to sell its shares too. “It is not in the interests of our clients to be minority investors in an unquoted company. Therefore, we will now be accepting the offer.” She clarified that the bank, which holds 14.9 percent of all Harvey Nichols shares, did not respond to the second offer but would agree to sell its shares as soon as possible.

As of Thursday, Broad Gain controlled 76.8 percent of Harvey Nichols, pending a completion of the deal. That figure will rise to 91.7 percent when the bank sells its stake.

Spokesmen for Broad Gain and Harvey Nichols declined comment.

As reported, Poon was forced to restructure his bid for the store after he met resistance from Deutsche Bank, the store’s largest institutional investor. The bank, which does not want to see Harvey Nichols delisted and believed the offer price was too low, voted against Poon’s first bid last month. Poon was forced to restructure the new bid in such a way that the bank’s approval would not be necessary.

“No matter how the second vote turns out, Dickson Poon’s board must recognize that a decision to delist Harvey Nichols must be made in the interest of all shareholders,” said a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman last month.

“Delisting is not in our interests and it would be a difficult recommendation for the directors of a company to make under these circumstances.”

Poon, via Broad Gain, currently owns 50.1 percent of Harvey Nichols. He wants to delist the company because he feels the store is not realizing any material benefit from its listing, due to its small market capitalization and relative lack of stock liquidity.

This story first appeared in the December 6, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Poon’s bid represents a 35.5 percent premium over the closing price of $2.84 on Sept. 17, and puts the total capitalization of Harvey Nichols shares at $212 million.

Nichols sells top designer brands in women’s and men’s wear, beauty, home furnishings, food and its own Harvey Nichols apparel brand through its London flagship and its other stores. The Harvey Nichols Group opened its first “boutique” store format in Birmingham last year and continues to seek sites for rollout of this format. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1996.

Poon’s firm Dickson Concepts is listed on the Hong Kong exchange and has more than 400 stores in southeast Asia and China. Nameplates include Coach, Tod’s, Bulgari, Chopard, Charles Jourdan watches, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and its Polo Jeans division, Benetton and its Sisley division, Brooks Brothers and Seibu department stores outside Japan.