Tuesday 17 September 2019

Burberry shares out of fashion as Belgian billionaire bails

The richest man in Belgium has cashed in on his British investment.


By Helen Cahill, Press Association City Reporter

Burberry’s shares have fallen out of fashion after Belgian billionaire Albert Frere sold his stake in the British brand.

Mr Frere, the richest man in Belgium, offloaded his 6.6% holding in Burberry, which was held through his investment vehicle Groupe Bruxelles Lambert.

The group said it was selling 27.6 million shares for £498 million.

Burberry’s shares were down by 6.8% or 114.5p to 1,770p following the announcement.

Ian Gaillienne and Gerard Lamarche, co-chief executives of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, said the company was making a capital gain of around £83 million from the share sale. The money will be used to diversify the company’s portfolio.

“The proceeds from the disposal will be redeployed into other investments,” they said.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “Yesterday, the stock hit its highest level since November, and it has rallied more than 25% since the lows of February.

“Mr Frere didn’t give a reason for disposing his Burberry shares, but the share price has performed well recently so it might be a matter of getting out during a positive run.”

It comes after an eventful period for Burberry, which recently appointed former Kingfisher chief executive Gerry Murphy as its new chairman.

Mr Murphy will be part of Burberry’s transformation under its chief executive Marco Gobbetti, who took over from Christopher Bailey last year, having been the boss of French luxury brand Celine since 2008.

Mr Gobbetti was appointed to lead the famous British business after investors complained about Mr Bailey’s leadership. Shareholders were concerned about flagging sales, and also protested about the size of Mr Bailey’s pay packet last year.

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