Dickson Concepts

Dickson to buy Hilfiger Asian units for $396m

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 July, 2006, 12:00am


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Chairman denies selling business to bail out his Paris-listed firm ST Dupont

Luxury goods retailer Dickson Concepts (International) plans to buy Tommy Hilfiger's Asia business from its chairman for $396 million after failing in its bids to acquire several other brands.

Dickson Concepts said the price of Tommy Hilfiger, which operates 89 stores in Asia, represented 7.8 times the $50.7 million net profit for the year to March. Net profit was 2.55 per cent higher than a year ago - near Dickson Concepts' net profit growth of 2.6 per cent to $208.38 million for the year to March on turnover of $2.64 billion.

Chairman Dickson Poon yesterday said that the sale of Tommy Hilfiger's retail outlets and distribution rights to the Hong Kong-listed arm was not a move to bail out his Paris-listed firm ST Dupont.

Some media reported that Mr Poon needed to spend as much as Euro50 million ($496.3 million) to rescue ST Dupont from bankruptcy a few months ago. Mr Poon said negotiation with Dickson Concepts on the Tommy Hilfiger deal was launched well after ST Dupont's restructuring.

Still, analysts have said Dickson Concepts' image had been tarnished by the many connected transactions between the firm and Mr Poon.

In 2000, Dickson Concepts failed to disclose a deal to buy hardware and software from Mr Poon's Dickson Management Consultancy for $130 million.

In April Dickson Concepts renewed 12 agreements with companies either controlled or wholly owned by Mr Poon who will receive up to $328 million over the next three years. This included the three-year sub-licence renewal worth up to $113.1 million for the distribution of ST Dupont's products on the mainland.

'For every connected transaction, we disclose clear and detailed information to analysts, investors and shareholders,' Mr Poon said. 'It is totally transparent.'

Mr Poon said Dickson Concepts failed to acquire several international brands recently because investment funds bid at prices that 'the company found hard to justify'. He declined to give examples.

The cost of the Tommy Hilfiger acquisition will be funded by internal resources, the company said. The company's cash pile was $500 million at the end of March.

Mr Poon said that after the acquisition, the company would still have enough cash to carry out with its expansion plans, including an $80 million Seibu store in the Kowloon Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui to be opened at the end of this year.

Tommy Hilfiger plans to open 70 new stores in total by 2014 in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Singapore and Malaysia.

Nelson Chan Tsang-wing, an executive director of Dickson Concepts, said that the 10 per cent sales drop at Tommy Hilfiger in Taiwan last year stemmed from a late shipment in the first quarter and was only a one-off incident.