Myer shares soar on stake purchase, Solomon Lew takeover rumours
Shares in Myer Holdings closed up over 18% in Australia on Monday after a mystery buyer spent A$94 million on the stock, building a 10% stake in the country’s largest department store chain.
Analysts speculated that Solomon Lew, a serial retail investor, billionaire and one of Australia’s richest men, was behind the share purchases that were made at a 6.5% premium to Friday’s closing price. With the share price rising once the news leaked, that A$94m stake was worth A$9m more by the end of the day.
Lew’s Premier Investments firm owns fashion businesses Just Jeans, Portmans, Jay Jays, Jacqui E and Dotti, as well as nightwear label Peter Alexander, and expanding children’s stationery brand Smiggle.
However, sources also said that a foreign buyer or a private equity firm could be behind the share raid.
Lew has not commented and has previously dismissed suggestions that he might want to buy Myer. But the shares were bought through broker Pershing, which he has used in the past.
Short sellers have been betting heavily on Myer’s share price to fall further in the past year even though it has already been trading well below the price at which it originally listed and up until last Friday had dropped almost 9% so far this year. But it was the best performer on the Australian Stock Exchange on Monday.
Lew previously held a 10% stake in Myer rival David Jones and also has a history with Myer itself. Before its split into two companies, he was chairman and a director of Coles Myer.
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