A newly leaked email suggests that Philip Green enlisted the help of HSBC to find a buyer for the Arcadia Group, despite his claims to the contrary last week.
According to reports Green met with the banking giants managing director David Barraclough and UK chief executive Ian Stuart back in February 2016 to discuss succession planning.
The leaked message, obtained by the Sunday Times, shows that Barraclough described the billionaire owner of Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Burton and Dorothy Perkins as distracted over the BHS pensions scandal.
According to the email, Green also realised he might have to sell Topshop to a buyer, potentially from China, to raise enough funds to cover the deficit at the Arcadia totalling nearly £900m.
Barraclough wrote: “As emotions were running high, PG’s [Philip Green’s] thinking was the need to sell, and having heard my comments . . . [he] sought our assistance and offered to meet any Chinese prospective partner we consider appropriate.
“After further discussion, PG agreed to source a sale solution. The strategy should be to sell Topshop/Topman separate to the rest of the Arcadia portfolio of lesser brands. Whilst the Topshop/Topman sale should be straightforward, he accepts residual Arcadia will be a tougher ask and may need to be sold by way of individual brands over a protracted period.”
He added: “Whilst the Topshop/Topman sale should be straightforward, he accepts residual Arcadia will be a tougher ask and may need to be sold by way of individual brands over a protracted period.”
The leak contradicts the statement from Green last week that strongly denied the Arcadia Group was for sale.
Green denied that he was in talks to sell Arcadia to Chinese textiles group Shandong Ruyi, adding that there was “no truth” in the suggestion that he has been “seeking a buyer for some time”.