The board of directors of Findel immediately rejected a proposed bid for all its shares made by Sports Direct International (SDI) on Monday, arguing that it significantly undervalued its online retail and education businesses. SDI, which started to invest in the British fashion retailer in 2015, had to make the tender offer after raising its stake.
SDI's offer of about 161 pence per share was one pence lower than Findel's closing stock market price on Friday. It valued Findel at around £140 million (€163.1m-$184.5m). SDI had to make the offer after purchasing shares that raised its stake from 29.9 percent to 36.8 percent. Investors are betting that SDI will have to make a better offer, as the stock price increased to 175 pence after Findel's board opposed the takeover.
Meanwhile, Debenhams, the struggling department store chain in which SDI owns a 30 percent stake, issued a profit warning yesterday, saying that its results will fall below market expectations. In particular, same-store sales were down by 5.7 percent in the 18 weeks through Jan. 5 and by a further 4.6 percent in the subsequent eight weeks. Online and international sales performed better.
Prior to the profit warning, Debenhams obtained an additional £40 million (€46.6m-$52.7m) credit facility from its lenders, giving it time to arrange a long-term debt restructuring and recapitalization. Ashley had offered to lend the same amount, but the chain's management rejected it because it came with conditions that would have affect the other shareholders.
The group also entered an agreement in principle with Li & Fung, the Hong Kong procurement group, to develop a sourcing partnership. The deal is expected to cover a “material” part of Debenhams' own-brand sourcing, generating improved quality and lead times, higher margins and better working capital efficiency. The first orders are due to be placed shortly for the deliveries in the spring season.
As of Jan 5. Debenhams had a net debt of £286 million (€333.3m-$376.8m). The chain operates 165 stores, including its London flagship on Oxford Street, and employs 25,000 people. There has been media speculation that it could close up to 90 locations using an insolvency procedure known as a company voluntary arrangement. For the time being, the plan is to shut down around 50 stores in the medium term.
Mike Ashley is truly insatiable. On Feb. 8, SDI began went into uncharted territory by announcing an offer for all the assets and the trade of Patisserie Valerie, a bankrupt British chain of cafés and pastry shops. Eventually, the business was rescued through a management buyout financed by and Irish private equity firm, Causeway Capital Partners.