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M&A

Frasers Group calls for Peacocks sale inquiry

Mike Ashley was reportedly beaten in his Peacocks takeover bid by the management-led deal backed by Edinburgh Wollen Mill (EWM) owner Philip Day

Frasers Group has reportedly called for an investigation to be launched into the sale of fashion chain Peacocks to an international consortium backed by chief operating officer, Steve Simpson.

According to the Guardian, Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct and House of Fraser, was beaten in his Peacocks takeover bid by the management-led deal backed by Edinburgh Wollen Mill (EWM) owner Philip Day.

In a stock market statement, Frasers claimed that Day, alongside EWM’s administrator FRP Advisory, had made it “virtually impossible” for a third party to acquire the fashion brand.

The deal, which saved 2,000 jobs and almost half of Peacocks’ 423 stores, was set in motion following the chain’s collapse into administration in November 2020.

However, in a letter seen by the publication, Mike Lennon, restructuring expert at Duff and Phelps, who is acting on behalf of Frasers, said that the group had been blocked from a potential deal.

He reportedly claimed that following a “number of obstructions”, Ashley’s retail group had “lost all faith in the process”.

The letter, which was sent to FRP, highlighted that a £66m Frasers Group offer had been put to Day but subsequently topped by Simpson’s group, which was formerly owned by Day.

In turn, Ashley’s retail group is set to involve the all-party parliamentary group on fair business banking, which is currently investigating UK insolvency standards.

A spokesperson at FRP responded stating that the entirety of the group’s sales processes are “fair, robust and conducted confidentially”.

They added: “All interested parties are given the same access to information and outcome of those processes and our statutory investigations are communicated, in line with our duties, to creditors at the appropriate time.”

Retail Sector has contacted Frasers Group for further comment.

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