Agent Provocateur for sale after accounting issues - report
Agent Provocateur is being prepared for a possible sale according to press reports in the UK. The news follows the company’s private equity owner shocking the industry late last year as it reported accounting issues, a restructuring and the need to pump new investment into the high-end lingerie firm.
Private equity group 3i has owned Agent Provocateur for the past decade and has called in a raft of experts in recent months. It has hired investment bank Rothschild to handle a possible sale, The Times and Sunday Times reported. Meanwhile KPMG has been going through its books and restructuring firm Alix Partners has also been tasked with developing a turnaround plan before any possible auction.
But it appears that 3i isn’t 100% committed to an outright sale and options also include bringing in a new investor.
3i, which has an 80% stake in the company, reported the accounting issues when it released its own interim results in November. It said at the time that it had written down its investment in the firm by £39m. That writedown was also attributed to the luxury slowdown and Agent Provocateur’s badly timed expansion programme.
As well as the writedown, the company also invested an extra £4m in the label and non-executive chairman Chris Woodhouse was replaced by 3i partner Ian Lobley in December. A number of other executives also left last year.
3i paid £60m for its stake in 2007 and tried unsuccessfully to sell it in 2014. But one retail source told The Sunday Times that it could be worth as little as £15m in current circumstances. The newspaper said the private eqwuity firm and the advisers it is consulting have not commented.
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