Debenhams sale process ends with no acceptable bids

A sale process for Debenhams has ended with no acceptable bids being received, leaving the company’s creditors in full charge of the company, according to people briefed on the matter.

The department store group went into a “pre-pack” administration in April, with ownership of the two operating companies passing to an entity controlled by its lenders.

However, a marketing process for the company was initiated by FTI Consulting, its administrators, and run by Lazard, the investment bank advising the company. 

Any prospective purchaser would have had to immediately refinance the company’s indebtedness, according to administration documents produced by FTI. This amounted to more than £500m, including the group’s existing revolving credit facility and £200m of bonds. 

The people declined to say how many offers had been received, from whom or on what terms.

Sports Direct, a 29 per cent shareholder in Debenhams and a vocal critic of its management and strategy, had stated before it passed into administration that it would be interested in buying the company’s business or assets. 

Debenhams has since pushed ahead with a company voluntary arrangement, intended to allow the group to close 22 of its least profitable stores in January 2020 and pay reduced rents on just over 100 others. It has not ruled out closing more stores, depending on trading conditions.

The group has been hit hard by weak consumer spending and heavy discounting, exacerbated by its onerous rental costs and lease terms. 

The company’s creditors are due to vote on the agreement on Friday, with 75 per cent approval required for it to proceed.

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