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Inchcape considering sale of UK retail business

(Sharecast News) - Inchcape confirmed on Monday that it is reviewing strategic options for its UK retail business, which could potentially include a sale, following approaches from a number of interested parties. "This review is at a very early stage and there can be no certainty that it will result in a transaction," it said.

The statement followed a report from Sky News, which suggested that Inchcape had begun sounding out prospective buyers of its domestic operations in recent weeks.

Bankers at Rothschild have been hired to oversee talks with bidders, with analysts suggesting on Monday that the UK retail arm would be valued at several hundred million pounds, Sky said.

The division consists of 70 sites, employing 3,700 people, and works with car manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Sources told Sky the disposal of its UK dealerships would leave Inchcape free to focus on its higher-margin distribution activities in more than 40 countries around the world.

One added that shedding market perceptions of the company as a UK-focused car dealer should enable its board to attract a higher rating for its stock.

However, one shareholder questioned whether that could ultimately lead Inchcape's board, chaired by former GKN boss Nigel Stein, to decide to move its listing to another international exchange.

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