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Wed 9 Apr 2008 03:15 PM

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Al-Futtaim acquires Robinson and Company

UAE group captures a significant presence in Singapore's retail market.

The UAE's Al-Futtaim Group has won control of Singapore's department store chain Robinson and Company (RCL).

The group, which made a cash bid through its investment arm Al-Futtaim Global Private Limited (ALF Global), has secured 88% of the shares of RCL.

RCL operates renowned department and specialty stores including Robinsons, John Little, Marks & Spencer, Principles, Trucco, River Island and Fat Face in Singapore and Malaysia.

The acquisition establishes Al-Futtaim Group as a significant presence in one of the most buoyant economies in the Southeast Asia region.

ALF Global's move to raise its offer price to S$7.20 won over a majority of RCL's shareholders and earlier in the week the group was able to formally announce the offer had become unconditional.

The S$0.20 increase represents a marginal shift from the S$7 a share price set in March. The offer opened at an initial S$6.25 a share when the bid was launched in January.

By the beginning of the week ALF Global had secured in excess of 88% of RCL's shares. In its official announcement to the Singapore Exchange, ALF Global confirmed it had extended the closing date for the offer to April 30, from April 3.

James Gillespie McCallum, director of ALF Global, said: "This is the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in the RCL story.

"We look forward to working with the Company's management to explore areas where RCL can leverage the Al-Futtaim group's retail expertise to further expand its platform in the region.

"RCL has strong brand equity and an enviable heritage of meeting and exceeding customers' expectations. We fully intend to continue with and surpass this proud tradition."

The acquisition of Singapore's oldest retailer represents a significant step for Al-Futtaim Group and signals its determination to extend its operations beyond its core GCC and MENA market and into Southeast Asia and neighbouring regions.

ALF Global has been allocated a key role in establishing the group as an investment partner and owner for top tier businesses and leading brands in the South-east Asia region.

Acquisition of RCL demonstrates its determination to partner with the very best businesses in the region. Stephen Riady, executive director of Auric Pacific Group Limited, a major stakeholder in RCL, said: "We are leaving RCL in good hands and the improved offer at S$7.20 represents a ‘win-win' for all parties."

"We believe the Al-Futtaim Group understands and appreciates the RCL tradition and business and will be able to add significant value."

Standard Chartered Plc and Baker & McKenzie Wong & Leow, Singapore, have advised ALF Global.

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