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Oct 19, 2020
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Ashley's Frasers Group raises offer to buy Debenhams - report

Published
Oct 19, 2020

It seems that Frasers Group CEO Mike Ashley is once again targeting Debenhams as a takeover candidate with a report at the weekend saying he's renewing his interest in the department stores chain. 


Frasers Group has increased its Debenhams bid, a report claims



The Sunday Times said that the auction of the struggling company is reaching its final stages and Ashley has reportedly improved his offer for the business.

The retail billionaire previously built up a stake of close to 30% in Debenhams when it was a listed company and pushed hard to have more influence over the direction the retailer was taking. However, he was repeatedly rebuffed and lost the entire stake, at a reported cost of £150 million, when the listed parent company went into administration and the business was taken over by a consortium of its lenders.

But it would seem his belief that Debenhams would be better under his control than under its current set up has found some justification given the fact that the company went into administration early in the lockdown and is now up for sale again.

Yet there’s a big question over what his plans would be if he was successful in acquiring the chain that competes with Frasers Group’s House of Fraser chain. The company has plans to convert HoF into a more upscale department store business called Frasers. Would he want to run Debenhams alongside the Frasers business, perhaps as a more mass-market department store operation? Or would he want to divide its properties between the Frasers banner and his other chains, such as Sports Direct.

It's unclear who else is bidding for the company, although it's known that the owner of India's Reliance Retail has dropped out of the race. Debenhams has drafted in Hilco Capital to run a liquidation process in the event of the sale process being unsuccessful.

In a separate transaction, the company has also put its more buoyant Danish retail business Magasin du Nord up for sale with reports saying it’s targeting a price between £150 million and £200 million.

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