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Ex. Wickes team to head up Focus

The ex.Wickes double act of Bill Grimsey and Bill Hoskins will be installed this week as the new management team at Focus DIY, following the announcement due tomorrow that they have been sold to Cerberus.

The deal, will say that Cerberus, the US hedge fund has acquired Focus for £220m. In a major return to the front line of Retailing, the duo will be looking to recreate the success that they delivered in the late 1990'2 when they turned round the Wickes business, eventually selling it to Focus for £289m in 2000.

It is understood that both Grimsey as CEO and Hoskins as FD, will both take equity in Focus. As part of this deal, it is understood that the current CEO Steve Johnson will leave the business.

Cerberus has also appointed Hilco, the US business turnaround specialist to manage the necessary operational changes post acquisition.

The sale ends 5 months of speculation about the future of the business, folling the appointment of Rothschild in January.

Cerberus will pay the holders of Focus's £180m of senior debt in full, whilst the mezzanine debt holders will get just 40p in the pound. Bond note holders will also be given the opportunity to invest £21m in return for equity in the acquisition vehicle.

According to an insider close to the deal, Cerberus plans to invest heavily in the business, emphasising the 'softer' market position, compared to the market leader B&Q. Focus currently has 250 stores, a growing proportion of which are in smaller towns, which no longer have to compete head on with B&Q and Homebase.

17 June 2007
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