UPDATE 1-Apax considers investment in Israeli fashion chain Fox

Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:15am EST

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TEL AVIV Dec 30 (Reuters) - Fox-Wizel, one of Israel's leading fashion chains, said on Monday that it has been approached by private equity firm Apax regarding an investment in the company.

"Preliminary talks took place, a confidentiality agreement was signed and Apax will begin an examination of the company," Fox said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Fox, which issued the statement in response to a report in the Globes financial newspaper, said that at this stage no price or terms have been set and the issue has not been discussed by the company's board of directors.

A spokesman for Apax in Israel declined to comment. The British firm's investments in Israel include a 56 percent stake in Tnuva, the country's biggest food manufacturer.

Israeli model Bar Refaeli is the spokesperson for the Fox brand, which sells basic fashion, operating 140 stores in Israel. It also sells from 250 retail outlets in 15 countries, mainly in Eastern and Central Europe and Asia, most of which are operated by franchisees.

The group also has a home products chain and operates the American Eagle Outfitters franchise in Israel.

Fox, which has a market value of 1.27 billion shekels ($365 million), reported group revenue of 747.9 million shekels in the first nine months of 2013, up 17 percent on the same period last year, with net profit up 15 percent at 64.2 million shekels.

Shares in Fox were up 3.1 percent to a 2013 high of 100.8 shekels in afternoon trade in Tel Aviv. The share price has more than doubled since Jan. 1.

Fox Chief Executive Harel Wizel owns 25.9 percent of Fox through Wizel Holdings while Abraham Fuchs owns 25.5 percent and diamond and real estate tycoon Lev Leviev holds 19.4 percent.

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