What might happen if Coles is broken up?

Coles, the grog businesses and Kmart either retained or sold to the barbarians, Wal-Mart or Tesco? Officeworks to Harvey Norman? It would suit his franchised business model.

I have read that Woolworths would love Target, but there is a widespread belief that Solomon Lew has the bullseye in his sights.

Lew is a merchant through and through. He may love to be a shopkeeper again, and Target is a logical vehicle. It would mesh beautifully with his other interests. Lew, through Housewares International and the Voyager Solo apparel import and distribution business, has companies that operate in much of the Target supply chain. Lew could quickly bring together a team with broad expertise across Target’s merchandise offer.

Lew company Premier holds around 6% of Coles shares, and while not having the voting clout to block any acquisition, Lew will be a key stakeholder and one to whom many small investors will cast an eye during all this.

This would be a footnote to one of Australia’s longest and at times nastiest corporate battles.

In a twist, Housewares is itself the subject of some recent interest from barbarians. Would it be in Lew’s interest to get cashed up ready for a really big acquisition?

Peter Fray

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