Landsbanki, the retail group’s principle backer, has filed a petition to put a key Baugur holding company into administration. This will enable the Icelandic bank to control the majority of Baugur’s shareholdings: that’s more than 20 UK retail brands with a combined turnover of over £5bn.
A fire sale could put the jobs of Baugur’s 50,000-strong workforce at risk and leave Baugur’s creditors’ noses severely out of joint. But this hasn’t stopped possible buyers eyeing up the firm’s assets. Topshop boss Philip Green and Ryman’s Theo Paphitis as well as private equity group Alchemy’s Jon Moulton are among the interested parties.
Baugur boss, entrepreneur Jón Asgeir Jóhannesson, who built his empire almost exclusively on debt, told Icelandic news website Vísir-is that administration was the only way to protect the interests of Baugur’s companies and creditors: "I am sure that Philip Green is dancing a war dance in his living room because now he will become a large owner of our companies for virtually nothing," he said. "Landsbanki didn’t give us any other options."
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