Dead end … the Newcastle office of the little known EB Private Equity.THE office linked to the private equity firm which has launched a takeover bid for David Jones is a two-storey Victorian premises between a wig shop and a noodle restaurant in the back streets of Newcastle, in northern England.
Amid speculation that the bid could be a hoax, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission is examining all trading in DJs shares before Friday’s $1.65 billion bid made by little-known real estate investor EB Private Equity.
Neil Hume, a senior markets correspondent for the Financial Times tweeted yesterday what appeared to be the only response from the bidder – which did nothing to provide an insight into the mystery of who was behind the company.
Mr Hume said: ”Finally a response from EB Private Equity – Thank you for your email, we have no comment at this time. Kind regards, EB Private Equity.”
Speculation about the authenticity of the bid was fuelled because it was first reported by a financial blogging website also based in Newcastle, which was launched last month and has posted only five stories.
The company’s website was built by a 20-year-old woman but her telephone went unanswered yesterday.
Asked if board meetings were taking place over the weekend to consider the bid, a spokeswoman for David Jones said: ”I can’t disclose.”
The company previously said that it was aware of hoaxes in Britain and New Zealand but that it had a duty to its shareholders to follow it through.
There has also been speculation that Premier Investments, run by the retail magnate Solomon Lew and of which former DJs chief executive Mark McInnes is a director, is connected to the private equity bid. However, a source close to Premier denied any link and declined to comment on whether Mr Lew was interested in acquiring David Jones.
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