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Sanpower targets House of Fraser

HOUSE of Fraser has ­reportedly been targeted by a Chinese conglomerate keen to extend its reach into the UK.

The department store, which was founded in Glasgow in 1849, is known to be looking at a range of fund raising options and has previously been courted by a number of parties including Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley and French retail giant Galeries Lafayette. A stock market flotation is also among the options being considered by the board.

Now Sanpower, which has its headquarters in Nanjing and interests in areas such as shopping centres, media, insurance, energy and technology, is believed to have made an approach valuing House of Fraser at more than £450 million.

Don McCarthy, the House of Fraser chairman who controls around 20% of the business along with his family, has been leading the hunt for investment and is thought to have been speaking to Sanpower for several months. Sanpower, which owns more than 100 companies, is headed by Chinese entrepreneur Yuan Yafei.

Any deal or flotation of would see a potential windfall for Sir Tom Hunter who holds a stake of around 11% in House of Fraser.

The company has more than 60 stores in the UK, including the famous Jenners premises in Edinburgh, and employs 7300 people. In January it reported its best ever Christmas with a 7.3% rise in sales.

Chief executive John King said he expected earnings to be much improved from the £6.9m loss it recorded in 12 months to January 26, 2013.

House of Fraser has annual sales of around £1.2 billion.

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