Debenhams to remain in hands of its lenders

Beleaguered department store chain Debenhams will remain in the hands of its lenders after a sale process ended with no acceptable bids.

Thursday, 9th May 2019, 5:51 pm
Debenhams will remain in the hands of its lenders. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

The group of creditors, which took control of the retailer after it went into a so-called pre-pack administration last month, said administrators at FTI Consulting considered buyout bids to be “not at the level required to be taken forward”.

The consortium, called Celine, gave assurances that it is a “committed long-term owner” and has provided Debenhams with £200 million in fresh funding.

Details were not given on the number of suitors or level of bids.

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But it is understood Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, which owned a 29% stake in Debenhams, was not one of the bidders, despite having led an aggressive campaign to take control of the retailer before its pre-pack administration.

Stefaan Vansteenkiste, representing Celine, said: “The investor consortium is a committed long-term owner, which has provided Debenhams with £200 million in fresh funding for the financial restructuring process and to fund the company’s operating turnaround.

“Within the consortium, there is extensive turnaround experience, which we will deploy to support the management’s plan and to position Debenhams for a long-term successful future.”

The creditors of Debenhams have approved the company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposals put forward by the business on April 26 2019.

Jim Tucker, restructuring partner at KPMG and joint supervisor of the CVA, said: “The approval of these CVAs marks an important step forward for Debenhams, which can now put the next phase of its financial and operational turnaround plans in motion.

“As with all CVAs, more than 75 per cent of creditors had to vote in favour in order to pass the resolution. Today’s vote saw the significant majority of all voting creditors choose to approve the two proposals.”