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Kingfisher ‘vulnerable’ to takeover says analyst

Published: 7 December 2007
Kingfisher could be at its most vulnerable to a takeover from its American counterpart, Home Depot.
Kingfisher ‘vulnerable’ to takeover says analyst
A leading industry analyst believes that two years of decline in Britain's troubled diy market and the impending departure of chief executive, Gerry Murphy, in February may trigger a bid by the Atlanta-based giant, sending it into the UK for the first time.

The analyst says that with Murphy gone, the Kingfisher group could break up, spinning off the core B&Q business and the chain's operations in Asia and Russia, the Castorama business in France and a 21% stake in Hornbach, the leading diy business in Germany.

"Kingfisher has long been seen as a potential takeover target for Home Depot, especially as it has modelled itself quite closely on Home Depot," said Nick Gladding, a lead analyst at Verdict Research, part of the Datamonitor Group.

"Kingfisher is struggling to turn its business around at present and key investors are now questioning its strategy. With the share price low, Kingfisher is vulnerable to a takeover approach."

Mr Gladding added: "With the dollar so weak, it would be an expensive purchase to make, but a bid could be possible if the British pound were to weaken in the coming year.

"The challenging market prospects for the United Kingdom and limited site availability for new stores means that Home Depot is very unlikely to go it alone in the UK."

Home Depot has for years knocked down rumours of a European acquisition.

Its chief financial officer, Carol Tome, told a conference in September that the company was focused on international markets close to where it already operates.

She said: "You can envisage how a Central American strategy might be of interest to us along with a broader Asian strategy.

"Really, in Western Europe, we love our friends at B&Q, but we are just friends. That's it."

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