Ted Baker Plc is starting a formal sale process seeking higher bids after private equity fund Sycamore Partners Management LP improved its offer for a second time.
The U.K. fashion designer said it has received unsolicited third party bid interest, and it’s inviting Sycamore to join the process.
Chief Executive Officer Rachel Osborne has been seeking to revive Ted Baker by cutting debt and product markdowns, boosting online sales and refreshing the brand. The shares have lost more than 90% of their value in the past four years.
Sycamore is a New York-based fund with about $10 billion in capital that focuses on consumer and retail businesses. Last week, Ted Baker said it rejected an offer from the firm for about 254 million pounds. If the company doesn’t join the sales process, it has until April 15 to make a bid or withdraw.
Ted Baker said the U.K. takeover panel is granting an exception to bidders, who won’t need to disclose themselves publicly as they make an initial non-binding offer. Ted Baker said it will later invite a select number of parties to continue discussions.
The retailer’s founder Ray Kelvin departed in 2019 after being accused of inappropriate hugs and other behavior in the workplace, which he denied. The company reported a 35% gain in fiscal fourth-quarter revenue in February.
A buyer would have three key shareholders it would need to convince on a bid: Toscafund Asset Management, which owns a 28% stake; Kelvin, who has about 11% and Schroders Plc, which has 13%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.