Debenhams could be sold as owners mull administration exit options
Debenhams could come under new ownership yet again quite soon as one of the company’s options for exiting its ‘light touch’ administration process.
The company went into administration at the start of the pandemic in order to protect the business and at the time seemed confident that it would exit the process once its stores were open again.
But a weekend news report said that the current owners – a consortium of its lenders – are looking at the different options available to them and will appoint investment bank Lazard to oversee any sale.
Of course, as we've seen with a number of such processes in recent months, the current owners could end up buying the business back. But it's also been suggested that they could be looking at possible joint-venture arrangements involving new investors, another CVA process, or a sale to a third party.
And it could happen quite soon with a target completion date of late September, according to the report in the Mail, which quoted sources but didn't identify them.
The sources said the September date is linked to big decisions that have to be made on clothing stock orders.
The company has continued to close shops and has reopened only 124 out of its 142 UK locations. That said, it has claimed that those shops are trading ahead of expectations.
Management has been reported saying that any sale process will be guided by what would be the best outcome for creditors.
A sale of the company raises the prospect of it passing into the hands of a new owner from outside the UK and the newspaper said that a Chinese consortium is among the possible bidders.
And of course, House of Fraser owner Mike Ashley could also throw his hat into the ring. He previously built up an almost 30% stake in Debenhams, which was wiped out when the listed parent company went into administration. He had tried to take control of the chain for some time before the administration happened.
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