Buyout Firms Back Out of Signet Deal

August 29, 2006

Buyout Firms Back Out of Signet Deal

Two buyout firms, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and Apax Partners Worldwide LLP, announced they were backing away from a deal to purchase Signet Group Plc, the British-owned holding company of jewelry chains such as Kay and Jared.

The two firms announced in early August they had begun preliminary analysis of a possible offer to buy the company, according to Bloomberg. Earlier this summer, Signet Group and Zale Corp. entered into merger talks that lasted only a few days.

Signet founder and former CEO Gerald Ratner announced he would try to regain control of the company's U.K. unit, Bloomberg reports. South African magazine the Financial Mail reported that Ratner was in talks with several banks to secure financing. In the meantime, the Financial Times reported the international investment firm Baugur Group HF, headquartered in Iceland, is also interested in purchasing Signet's British brands.

Shares of Signet fell 9.8% after the news of the aborted deal reached the market.

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