// Mike Ashley has expressed anger after being frozen out of the Debenhams auction
// Restructuring firm Hilco is preparing to start liquidating parts of the business
// Frasers Group and lawyers have spent the past week writing to investment bank Lazard
Mike Ashley has reportedly lashed out after being excluded from the auction of Debenhams, as restructuring firm Hilco begins liquidating parts of the business.
Frasers Group owner 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 Sunday Times reported.
The billionaire said it was “almost unbelievable” that Frasers Group was expected to make a bid on the vague information.
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Hilco was planning to send its teams into Debenhams’ stores as early as this week, but this may prove difficult following the government’s consideration to impose a second national lockdown.
The restructuring firm had made a bid with the intention of continuing to operate some stores.
Frasers Group lawyers said that the company received less information than other bidders and that there has been a deliberate attempt to shut it out of the auction process.
Online retailer The Hut Group made a bid for Debenhams’ online business, but is thought to be out of the running.
JD Sports has also run the rule over the entire company, but did not table a firm offer.
Ashley has also complained to the Financial Conduct Authority, the Pension Protection Fund and Labour MP Rachel Reeves.
The tycoon raised his £100 million offer to £125 million on October 7 after being told his initial bid was not competitive enough.
Frasers Group was given access to a “data room” last month, before Lazard sought confirmation it was willing to pay £305 million and would be able to complete a purchase agreement.
Nevertheless, the group told Lazard that it had faced “frustration at every step” and that there had been a “deliberate attempt to exclude us from the process”.
Debenhams responded by saying that it is conducting a “fair and thorough process”.
Information has been provided to parties on “the basis of the status of their proposals and subject to the restrictions of competition law”.
Debenhams has 124 stores in the UK and 12,000 workers.
The department store chain told potential buyers it expected to report an underlying loss of up to £10 million in the year to August 2020.
Debenhams collapsed into a “light touch” administration in April as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to impact trading.
The department store chain also began the sales process of its Danish retail business Magasin du Nord earlier in September in a bid to generate between £150 million and £200 million.