Competition Authority clears acquisition of Arnotts

Authority backs purchase of retailer’s loans from IBRC and Ulster Bank

The Competition Authority has given its blessing to the acquisition of a 50 per cent stake in Dublin department store Arnotts by Fitzwilliam Finance Partners and Selfridges through a purchase of €140 million worth of loans to the retailer from Ulster Bank.

It has also cleared the purchase of €230 million in loans secured on the department store by US investment firm Apollo Management from the liquidators of IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank.

In a statement, the Competition Authority said it did not believe that the transactions would lead to a substantial lessening of competition in any markets for goods or services in the State.

The Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and Ulster Bank took control of Arnotts in 2010 when they wrote off loans related to the ill-fated Northern Quarter property development around the group's Henry Street store in exchange for ownership of the retailer.


Fitzwilliam Finance Partners is an investment company led by solicitor Noel Smyth. It has received financial backing for the Arnotts stake from UK retailer Selfridges, which is controlled by Brown Thomas owner Galen Weston.

Apollo is a New York-based alternative asset management firm with $113 billion under management which is advised in Ireland by Brian Goggin, the former Bank of Ireland chief executive.

In Ireland it has already been a big investor having acquired the Irish credit card portfolio and operating assets of the Irish unit of the MBNA Europe subsidiary of Bank of America based in Carrick-on-Shannon in May 2012.

In January 2013, Apollo bought a €1.8 billion portfolio of Irish commercial real estate mortgage loans from Bank of Scotland, among other transactions.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist