Specialty Fashion group has confirmed that Anchorage Capital Partners has made an $100 million cash offer to acquire the plus-sized City Chic and Autograph brands but has thrown a cloud over the potential deal, citing a “range of outstanding issues”.
The announcement follows several months of speculation over whether a buyer would emerge for part or all of the business amid an independent structural review of the struggling company’s operations.
Anchorage has made a binding offer that’s valid until April 6, although SFG’s independent review committee has said it does not expect to reach an agreement with the private equity firm by the end of the week.
“The proposal is expressed as being binding and is valid until Friday 6 April 2018, however, the SFG Independent Review Committee notes that there are a range of outstanding issues that are yet to be agreed with Anchorage and the offer is subject to a number of conditions,” SFG said in a statement on Tuesday.
News of the proposal saw SFG’s share price skyrocket 22.5 per cent to 44 cents on Tuesday.
The committee did not provide any detail on the nature of conditions within the deal or what outstanding issues are associated with the proposal and declined to comment when contacted.
It did, however, leave the door open to considering other proposals, including the divestment of brands and even a potential capital raising to turn around the fortunes of the business, which has struggled to keep pace with fast-changing retail conditions in recent years.
SFG booked underlying earnings of $18.5 million in the first-half of FY18, down 39 per cent on the prior corresponding period.
Previously, former CEO and major shareholder Gary Perlstein was confirmed to be among the suitors for part of the apparel giant’s business, which also includes the Katies, Millers and Rivers brands.
It remains unclear whether Perlstein is associated with the Anchorage deal, but the City Chic brand is thought to be an attractive acquisition target given its relatively strong performance compared to the rest of the SFG stable.
Autograph was recently restructured to integrate it within City Chic’s leaner cost structure, which the business said in February was beginning to deliver improved margins.
City Chic currently has 115 stores across Australia, New Zealand and the US, while Autograph has 118 stores in Australia.
Offloading City Chic and Autograph would leave SFG without the core of its plus-sized stable, an area where new chief executive Daniel Bracken has previously said he was looking to focus more intently on.
Last month SFG acquired collapsed plus-size label Maggie T’s intellectual property as part of Bracken’s new strategy.
Anchorage has been contacted for comment.
UPDATED – 20:00 AEST – 03/04/2018