Newbridge linked to Australian retailer

The pan-Asian buyout firm is reportedly bidding for the Myer department store chain in conjunction with the company’s founding family.

Newbridge Capital, the pan-Asian joint venture between US buyout firms Texas Pacific Group and Blum Capital Partners, has teamed up with Melbourne’s wealthy Myer family to bid for the eponymous Australian retailer, according to a report in The Australian newspaper.

Coles Myer: soliciting bids

Myer is being sold by Coles Myer, which was formed when Myer and rival retail group Coles merged in 1986. Coles Myer is the largest retailer in Australia, with 2,500 stores throughout Australia and New Zealand. Following the merger, the Myer family retained a five per cent stake in the combined entity.

Newbridge, which last month closed a new $1.5 billion fund for investment in pan-Asian buyouts, is understood to be one of eight bidders on a shortlist that includes private equity interest from the likes of Archer Capital, Carlyle Group, CVC, Ironbridge Capital and JP Morgan Partners.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the US buyout giant that has reportedly been prowling for opportunities in Australia in recent months, was linked to a joint bid with Archer Capital, but is now thought to have withdrawn from the process.

It is understood that, following a Coles Myer board meeting next week, the shortlist will be whittled down further. The company has pencilled in a deadline of the first week of February 2006 for final bids.

Coles Myer is understood to have placed an internal valuation on its Myer stores of around AU$700 million (€445 million; $523 million), although retail analysts have valued the business at as little as AU$450 million.