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US group eyes Arcadia and Debenhams takeover

Authentic Brands, the US owner of New York department store brand Barneys, is reportedly eyeing a double takeover of Debenhams and Arcadia Group, according to the Telegraph.

The retail group has reportedly entered discussions with the administrators of both businesses, placing chairman Jamie Salter in “direct competition” with Mike Ashley, who has been pursuing a potential takeover of Debenhams

It comes as Salter has emerged as a “leading pandemic dealmaker” after building a reserve of more than $1bn (£756m) in a bid to rescue struggling retail brands, having previously acquired several bankrupt US retailers, including Barneys and Forever 21

Authentic Brands has also acquired the formalwear group Brooks Brothers, and is currently in talks to rescue department store chain JCPenney.

Sources told the Telegraph that while the group is a “serious challenger” for Debenhams and Arcadia, there is “no certainty” that Authentic Brands or Frasers Group will agree a deal for either business. Administrators for both groups reportedly aim to complete deals by February.

Debenhams collapsed into administration earlier this month, placing 12,000 jobs at risk, after talks with JD Sports over a potential rescue deal failed.

The department store chain will continue to trade through its 124 UK stores, as well as online. However, If it does not receive any alternative offers from potential buyers it confirmed that UK operations will close.

While negotiations are now underway for a potential transaction, Frasers Group noted there was “no certainty” a takeover would take place, particularly if discussions were not concluded “swiftly”. 

Arcadia collapsed into administration days before, after it failed to secure urgent funding needed to keep it afloat following the effects of the pandemic. 

The group appointed joint administrators from Deloitte to oversee a potential takeover. The Big Four firm confirmed in a statement to Retail Sector that they are “assessing all options available” to the group. 

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