in January the field bidding for Myer seemed to be expanding; at one stage being six. Some analysts believed that with vast amounts
of private
equity capital around, this could be a very good time to be selling a big

speculates whether the downturn in Melbourne
real estate could knock the shine off the value of the Myer Melbourne property
which will almost certainly be sold in a deal separate from the

newsletter Mass
Market Retailers
sees Coles Myer’s difficulties as a story about how US
retail leaders have done down under.

deadline for bids for Myer has been extended
until later in February, a delay to will allow the bidders to see the Christmas
trading numbers. But as the deadline
stretched, the field seemed to shrink
to three; one retailer (Edgars) and two investors. It might be four, but
there are reports indicating a lessening of interest from Harvey

The smaller field brings the
possibility of CML floating off the
department stores. One must question whether an IPO could possibly attract a higher return for
CML than a trade sale. Would
institutions or investors be likely to pay any more than industry key players
were willing to pay after a thorough look at the business?

float or sale must also include funding for some serious re-engineering of the
business. Management ranks were thin
when Dawn Robertson took over; and there has been significant churn among the
group reporting directly to the chief since her arrival, with only one of the
originals still there.

cannot help but wonder whether Dawn Robertson has been running a dual pitch to
the bidders. On one hand she has been
telling them Myer is a good business with plenty of upside. On the other she might be sorely tempted to
speak about how well she could manage the business under new ownership.

Will Robertson have a credibility
problem with potential buyers? After
all, they are at the table because they believe they can produce a better result
than the recent Myer turnaround strategies, led by Dawn. If Dawn’s turnaround strategy was red hot,
why is the business on the market?