Tuesday, 23 July, 2019

Debenhams has gone into administration

Debenhams branch Debenhams rejects last-ditch £200m offer from Mike Ashley as administration looms
Russell Knight | 09 April, 2019, 18:35

Under the proposal, Debenhams' lenders would have had to agree to write off £82 million of its £720 million debt mountain, as well as install the tycoon as chief executive.

FTI Consulting has been appointed to carry out the process but the firm insisted that stores will continue to trade as normal.

Debenhams has requested that its shares be suspended from trading with immediate effect, pending a further update.

The retailer's lenders have now taken control of the company.

Earlier today, the high street chain fell under the control of its lenders after rejecting a £200million lifeline offer from Sports Direct.

Sports Direct boss Ashley increased his offer to underwrite the business to 200 million pounds from an earlier offer of 150 million pounds at around midnight on Monday.

In February, it was revealed that the shutting of 20 of those stores could be brought forward if the department store chain took out a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

While the shops would continue trading for now, Debenhams has proposed closing around 50 branches from next year and renegotiating rents with landlords to tackle its funding problems.

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It is expected that later this morning the operating company of Debenhams will be placed into a new subsidiary vehicle, leaving the holding company as a shell.

Chairman Terry Duddy said it was "disappointing" that existing shareholders would be wiped out by the process.

The struggling United Kingdom retailer has been preparing a so-called pre-packaged administration under which shareholders - including Sports Direct with a roughly 30% stake - would likely lose their investments.

Eleanor Snow, Which? consumer rights editor, said: "Debenhams has always been a staple of the British high street so this is a worrying time for its customers and they may find their consumer rights are affected".

Lenders to Debenhams said the last-minute proposal, on the terms set out, was "not sufficient".

The deal comes after Debenhams struggled to adapt to the switch towards shopping online, held back by a heavy debt burden and large stores on long leases.

Debenhams, which has issued three profit warnings in the a year ago, is not alone in its financial woes.

The management had already announced that about 50 of the company's 165 stores across the country were likely to close - although none have been identified yet.

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