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Loan deal secures 500 jobs at Arnotts

BROWN Thomas owner Galen Weston and developer Noel Smyth have been cleared to take a 50pc stake in Arnotts department store.

The Competition Authority has approved the acquisition of loans at the iconic Dublin department store - securing over 500 jobs.

Mr Weston, a Canadian businessman - who is also behind British retailer Selfridges and Primark owner Associated British Foods - has teamed up with Smyth to buy a €140m tranche of Arnotts loans.

The loans were being offloaded by Ulster Bank. IBRC and Ulster Bank seized control of Arnotts in 2010 when loans attached to a massive planned development of property surrounding the department store were written off.

investment

The two businessmen used a company called Fitzwilliam Finance Partners to bid for the loans.

The other half of Arnotts is now owned by New York-based investment firm Apollo Management. Its acquisition of €230m worth of Arnotts loans from Irish Bank Resolution Corporation was also given the go-ahead yesterday. Apollo is advised here by former Bank of Ireland boss Brian Goggin. Fitzwilliam Finance and Apollo now also control Boyers.

Employees

The move is good news for Arnotts 500 employees and 100 more at Boyers The Competition Authority gave the green light to the acquisition of the loans by Fitzwilliam Finance following a probe.

The competition body said that as part of its investigation it had commissioned a survey of 500 Arnotts shoppers and also sought the views of competitors, suppliers and concessionaires.

The Weston Group has previously said it has plans to invest and develop the 170-year-old Arnotts store and its “peripheral properties”.

Mr Weston met his Irish wife, Hilary Frayne, when he moved to Dublin shortly after graduating to build up the Powers supermarket chain that later traded as Quinnsworth.

hnews@herald.ie

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