By Jonathan Davies

New Look is to be bought by an investment firm led by a South African billionaire in a deal worth £1.9 billion.

Christo Wiese's private equity firm Brait will pay around £780m for a 90% stake in the fashion retailer, and take on its debts which are estimated to be around £1.1bn.

New Look had been set for a floatation on the stock market, but the deal brings an end to those plans.

It is the second major UK deal secured by Brait in as many months. Last month, it announced a deal to buy an 80% stake in Virgin Active from Richard Branson for £673m.

After confirming the Virgin Active deal, Mr Wiese said he still had $2bn to spend.

New Look has 569 stores in the UK and another 200 abroad.

Anders Kristiansen, CEO of New Look said: “We are delighted to have announced this transaction. Brait have a track record of long-term and supportive investments — they give us the perfect platform to continue our strategy of growing the New Look brand in the UK, Europe and China. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our existing shareholders for their support over the years, and I am looking forward to working with Brait in the future.”

John Gnodde, Brait chief executive, said: “New Look is an attractive investment opportunity for Brait — it is a market-leading brand with … international reach and the potential to grow rapidly in a number of geographic markets including China. We have been highly impressed with the management team and look forward to partnering with them.”