Barclay brothers weigh up Littlewoods offers

Lovells clients the Barclay brothers got on the retail merry-go-round with a review of the future of their Littlewoods chain.

The brothers received at least two unsolicited offers for Littlewoods in late Janu-ary. One of them is believed to be from US-owned retail giant Asda, advised by Slaughter and May.

However, according to press reports, the Barclay brothers have yet to decide conclusively whether or not to sell the business which they bought in 2002. They are currently thought to be carrying out an internal review to assess their options with a decision to sell off the whole business ultimately contingent on price.

While Asda, longstanding Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer client Tesco and a private equity fund might bid for the entire Littlewoods business, other investors such as Next or Philip Green may be keen to pick up sets of stores, as they have all done with Allders.

Asda, which is owned by US giant Wal-Mart, has used Slaughters since the retailer was taken over in 2002.

Slaughters was Asda’s law firm before the takeover and the firm managed to capture the Wal-Mart relationship from Simmons & Simmons. The magic circle firm advised Asda on its failed bid for Safeway two years ago, with then head of corporate Nigel Boardman leading on the deal. Slaughters also has limited links with the Barclay brothers – the firm advised on some of the competition aspects of the brother’s takeover of GUS last year. However, the Barclays have a very close relationship with Lovells private equity partner Marco Compagnoni and have historically turned to him for corporate deals, including the auction for the Telegraph Group, which they won last year.

Slaughters and Lovells declined to comment.