Alan Sugar’s bid to buy a 3.88% stake in ailing retailer Woolworths has failed after his shares did not arrive. It has prompted speculation that he had acquired the stake from an Icelandic investor whose assets have been frozen.
Sugar, the founder of Amstrad computers and star of BBC’s The Apprentice, announced last week that he had acquired the stake, thought to be worth £1.8m, through his Amsprop investment arm. But the company has today (October 17) told the stock exchange that it did have a shareholding above 3% because the “selling party was unable to deliver the shares”.
It has not been disclosed who Sugar was buying his shares from, but there is speculation that the it was an Icelandic investor. Woolworths’ largest investor is Icelandic retail investment company Baugur, which owns a 10% stake. Kaupthing, the nationalised Icelandic bank, is also thought to hold shares in the high street retailer.
Sugar is thought to already hold a small stake in Woolworths and is believed to see potential in its property portfolio.
The struggling retailer reported a £99.7m half-year loss in September, leading to the departure of chief executive Trevor Bish-Jones. He was replaced by Steve Johnson, who has savaged the chain’s performance, criticising its product range and its stores. His comments are understood to have led to the departure of Simon Turner, retail and operations director, who joined from Tesco earlier in the year.