Frasers Group, owned by entrepreneur Mike Ashley, has reportedly dropped out of the race to acquire struggling UK department store chain, Debenhams. According to The Times, Frasers Group’s offer fell short of the £300 million asking price set by the company’s advisors. This has left Debenhams with several options for its future, including liquidation, selling off its assets to different buyers, or having its debts purchased by the group of hedge funds that own them.

The decision by Frasers Group comes after Chris Wootton, the Chief Financial Officer of the company, wrote to Darren Jones, chairman of the business, energy, and industrial strategy select committee, stating that the asking price was almost impossible to meet unless one had insider information. Wootton also called for the government to examine Debenhams’ 2019 administration filing, which resulted in Frasers Group losing nearly 30% of its stake in the company.

Debenhams, which currently operates 124 stores and employs 12,000 people, has faced significant challenges in recent years, having filed for administration twice within a two-year period. The future of the retailer remains uncertain, with potential options including being acquired by hedge funds or purchased by restructuring specialist Hilco, who may opt to streamline the company to generate cash.

The UK government is currently reviewing the pre-pack administration system, but no decisions regarding Debenhams’ future have been announced yet.

Additional Related Links:
1. BBC: Debenhams could be liquidated unless buyer found
2. The Guardian: Frasers Group fails in bid to buy Debenhams