Billionaire to sell Topshop stake

Billionaire retailer Philip Green is on the verge of selling a significant chunk of his fashion brand Topshop to US investors.

Billionaire to sell Topshop stake

Billionaire retailer Philip Green is on the verge of selling a significant chunk of his fashion brand Topshop to US investors.

The tycoon is in talks to offload a stake of up to 25% of Topman and Topshop in a deal which values the two chains at close to £1bn (€1.23bn), according to sources.

The buyer is understood to be one of the joint owners of American clothing business J Crew.

Green, whose family ranked 17th on the 2012 Sunday Times UK rich list with an estimated £3.3bn (€4.06bn) fortune, took over the Arcadia Group in 2002.

As well as the Topshop and Topman brands, Arcadia also includes a number of other big high street names including BHS, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge. It is understood Arcadia's other brands will not be included in the deal.

The sale is yet to be finalised, but it is understood it could be announced in the next 24 to 48 hours.

J Crew is owned by Leonard Green & Partners (LGP) and TPG Capital, two big American private equity firms which between them have backed companies such as Debenhams, the department store chain.

Arcadia employs 43,000 people and is one of Britain's biggest private sector employers.

Topshop started as Peter Robinson's Topshop in Sheffield in 1964, becoming a stand-alone shop in the 1970s.

The chain has enjoyed unrivalled success in the UK and abroad in the past few years with the help of design collaborations with the likes of Kate Moss and Celia Birtwell.

It launched its first store in the US in New York in April 2009, which was followed by branches in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Chicago.

In July a partnership between Topshop and Topman and US department store chain Nordstrom was also announced.

Green has a fierce reputation and is known as the king of British buy-outs.

Born in Croydon, his father died when he was 12 and he earned money helping out at his mother's petrol station business before leaving school at 15.

As a teenager he learned the shoe business, working in a warehouse, dealing with imports and salesmen.

But at 23 he borrowed money from the bank to set off on his own venture, importing jeans from Hong Kong.

In 1984 he bought struggling fashion chain Jean Jeanie for £65,000 (€80,067), selling it on a year later for £3m (€3.7m).

But his big coup came in 2000 when he bought the ailing Bhs for £200m (€246.4m), multiplying its profits within a few years.

He bought Arcadia, whose brands include Topshop and Burton, two years later for £850m (€1bn), becoming a billionaire in record time.

Green made repeated unsuccessful attempts to take over Marks & Spencer, the company that employed him until he was 40.

He has two children with his wife Tina and is based in the tax haven of Monaco.

Green, who was knighted in 2006 for his services to the retail industry, was appointed to carry out an efficiency review for the Government in 2010 to try to identify where savings could be made.

His report in October of that year described "staggering" wastage in Whitehall spending.

Last year Topshop was targeted by activists protesting against tax avoidance, with campaigners holding demonstrations which led to the temporary closure of some stores.

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