General merchandise retailer Argos fits the profile of a typical Steinhoff acquisition, according to the CEO of the Europe, Africa and Australasia based conglomerate.

Speaking on the investors call following the release of its interim results last week, Markus Jooste told analysts the UK chain — the subject of a takeover approach last month — was of a type Steinhoff knew well.

Mr Jooste said Takeover Panel rules in the UK prevented specific comment, but in general the group had “always looked at organic and acquisitive growth as long as it makes sense [and] the return on investment shows to us that it is worth our while.”

He added: “Certainly the Argos business in the UK is a typical business of size and volume and a product category that we understand well.”

“People are probably one of the most critical parts which we evaluate in looking at acquisitions and whether they will fit in with the culture and the DNA of the Steinhoff group.

“I am very proud to say that when you look over the last 18 years, I can very rarely think of companies we have bought where the key management are not still with us today and form part of the top management.”

He suggested that Steinhoff’s interest in Argos was driven by opportunities identified by personnel here in the UK, rather than in the corporate boardroom, saying acquisitions were “always initiated by the local management” in the country.

“It is not our job to find acquisitions, but obviously once they have identified a target it is our role to help, to investigate, and to make sure our return on investment can stack up. We are always supportive of the geographical management. Our role is to provide the capital and the gearing and to see that it makes strategic sense.”

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