Lingerie firm Agent Provocateur has been bought by a firm linked to Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley after it was placed into administration. Co-founder Joe Corré came out swinging at what he calls a “phenomenal stitch-up”.
“Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, who are lined up to pick at a carcass, plan to keep the brand and the stock and nothing much else,” according to Corré, who believes VC firm 3i is the key to his company’s unravelling.
According to Corré, 3i deliberately rejected a far higher offer of £35 million from Quadro Capital led by Giedrius Pukas–a deal that could have protected the brand, creditors and 650 jobs.
“Quadro Capital banks with Barclays, as does Agent Provocateur. Barclays verified that Quadro Capital are good for the money,” says Corré. “The pre-pack arrangement between 3i and Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct is a disgrace to British business, up there with Sir Philip Green’s shocking behaviour over BHS”.
A furious Corré added that if this “preposterous deal” with Ashley goes ahead, Agent Provocateur may take legal action. “3i and its partners are going to face a phenomenal swathe of litigation actions. 3i’s reputation is going to be left it tatters. I don’t think they will ever recover from this,” he says.
Corré believes 3i decided to “deliberately road crash the business to wipe out anything owed to creditors or the taxman” even though a higher offer was on the table. “This is bad practice at its worst.”
Alix Partners is appointing the administrators. Rothschild’s was involved in the sale of Agent Provocateur.