Businessman Micky Jagtiani yesterday confirmed he was the buyer of 3.2 million shares in department store chain Debenhams, worth $5.5 million (Dh20.2m).
Jagtiani, chairman of the Dubai-based Landmark Group, said the increase in his stock in the high-street retailer – taking his holding to 7.3 per cent – was a “short-term strategic deal”.
Speaking exclusively to Business 24|7, he said his interest in the company, which has outlets in Dubai, could become a long-term investment “depending on the circumstances and benefits”.
He said: “We are trying to buy shares in different companies from different markets. Purchasing shares in Debenhams is a normal investment and if I find an opportunity to make money through such short-term or long-term investments, I will buy and sell shares.
“I have an investment office, which is handling the Debenham shares and other share purchases. Currently, I find investment opportunities in the UK, US, Australia and India.”
News of the purchase sent Debenhams’ share price soaring by 14.57 per cent on the London Stock Exchange to 86.50 pence from the last closing price of 75.50 pence.
Bloomberg reported Debenhams shares rose the most in London trading after a company analyst speculated, although failed to prove, that Landmark Group had made the purchase.
According to Bloomberg, Milestone Resources Group Ltd, widely believed to be part of the Landmark Group, was not disclosed earlier as a shareholder. Debenhams announced on its website on December 17 the acquisition of voting rights by Milestone Resources Group from Chase Nominees Ltd following the share deal.
“Milestone is owned by Landmark’s entrepreneur chairman and chief executive Micky Jagtiani,” said analysts including Bear Stearns & Co’s Nick Hawkins in London. “If Mr Jagtiani wanted to acquire Debenhams, now could be the time to do it, as investor confidence is very low,” Hawkins wrote in a note. We see no reason for stake-building.”
Landmark Retail encompasses the nine core retail brands – Centrepoint, Babyshop, Shoe Mart, Splash, Lifestyle, Home Centre, Max, E-Max and Landmark International. Debenhams has 141 shops across the UK and Ireland and 35 international franchise stores in 16 countries outside the UK and Ireland. It also has four stores in the UAE – Deira City Centre, Ibn Buttuta Mall, Mall of Emirates and Sahara Center, Sharjah.
Pioneer urges retailers to think international
Retailers and manufacturers have to think global, as that is the way the world is moving, believes Micky Jagtiani, Chairman of the Dubai-based Landmark Group that has been investing in multinational companies with the intention of going global. The soft-spoken Jagtiani is seen in the business world as a persistent businessman with global ambitions.
Born in Lebanon, Jagtiani went to England to study accountancy and then returned to the region, this time to Bahrain to sow the seeds of the Landmark Group 30 years ago.
Starting with a one-shop outlet of Babyshop in Bahrain, Jagtiani expanded his business interest to Dubai and eventually moved his business base to the Emirates. In Dubai, he groomed local brands such as Splash and Lifestyle and took to other countries of the Arabian Gulf and eventually to India and beyond.
His recent commercial conquest was in the United States, when he mounted a joint bid along with Iceland’s Baugur Group for Saks Fifth Avenue.
The bid could come in at $3 billion (Dh11.01bn) to $4bn (Dh14.7bn).
It is believed that Landmark and Baugur, which controls UK’s House of Fraser department stores, are to be equal allies in the bid.
The bidders have made a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing unveiling their interest in the retailer, and said they hoped to open friendly negotiations with the Saks management and the board. Earlier this year, Landmark along with global private equity giants like CVC and Blackstone figured in a bid to acquire UK clothing retailer New Look.
The sale process was abandoned following valuation differences even though sources said Landmark, which already owns three per cent in New Look, was still in talks to hike its holding to 14 per cent.
Jagtiani’s retail business, which started with $5,000 (Dh18,350) investment, currently has more than 600 stores across India, the Middle East and Spain. Landmark’s annual revenue has crossed $2bn (Dh7.34bn).
Landmark is currently planning a foray into India with French grocery chain Carrefour.
Industry peers and associates have watched in awe Jagtiani’s rise in retail, and his recent diversification into leisure, hotels and electronics sector.
Landmark has unveiled plans to develop a budget hotel chain in India, and enter leisure business.