// Mike Ashley withdraws from list of bidders to acquire Debenhams
// The billionaire refused to match the £300 million price tag set by the retailer’s advisers
// Frasers Group finance boss Chris Wootton wrote to chair of BEIS committee, saying that the asking price was “impossible”
Mike Ashley has reportedly withdrawn from the running to acquire Debenhams after refusing to match the £300 million price tag set by the retailer’s advisers.
Debenhams will now face the choice of liquidating the business, selling off respective divisions to buyers or selling it back to the hedge funds that own its debts, The Times reported.
Frasers Group’s chief financial officer Chris Wootton has written to chair of the BEIS committee, saying that the asking price was “impossible” for all but insiders to reach.
He added that Debenhams would be bought by its present owners or Hilco, a restructuring specialist, which would “look to turn the remnants of Debenhams into cash before leaving a bare carcass stripped to the bone”.
Hilco has been put on standby as liquidator if a buyer for Debenhams cannot be secured.
Meanwhile, Next and Marks & Spencer are understood to be interested in buying some shops from the struggling chain but not the whole company, while online retailer The Hut Group has made an offer to buy Debenhams’ website.
According to Debenhams’ lawyers, Frasers Group had not made an offer by the deadline last week which, alongside a “gulf” in price meant “the joint administrators regretfully conclude that there is no prospect of concluding a transaction”.
Nevertheless, on Monday, Ashley expressed anger after being excluded from the auction of Debenhams.
Ashley and his lawyers have spent the past week writing to investment bank Lazard and law firm Freshfields to describe the data provided to his fashion group as “woefully inadequate”.
The billionaire said it was “almost unbelievable” that Frasers Group was expected to make a bid on the vague information.