India’s richest man to take over Debenhams?
By Sarah Wood | 24th September 2020
India's richest man is the surprising latest contender to take over Debenhams, which has been in administration since April.
Mukesh Ambani has a fortune estimated at more than £49bn. His business interests include industries as diverse as petrochemicals, textiles and technology. Last year his Reliance Retail empire bought the world-famous British toy store Hamleys, as reported by Sky.
Reliance Retail hasn't yet put in a formal bid for Debenhams, which has a department store in Gloucester. An auction of the chain has already been underway for several weeks.
Debenhams was keen to agree a takeover by the end of this month, but better-than-expected trading since stores reopened following lockdown has eased the pressure.
But Hilco Capital, a specialist in winding down troubled retailers, is ready to oversee a liquidation of the business if it doesn't sell to a third party or receive a cash injection from its most recent owner. Hilco also worked with Debenhams on the permanent closure of 18 stores earlier this year.
It's thought that other participants in the auction include Mike Ashley of Frasers Group, who is said to be interested in only a small proportion of Debenhams' 120 stores.
Information circulated among potential buyers gives a potential scenario of closing half of the UK stores. Although the stores haven't been named, this could be very bad news for Gloucester.
Punchline said: "The uncertainty over Debenhams future has been going on for a long time now. As Gloucester's only department store, shoppers and businesses in the city alike, are hoping that it can remain open and that jobs can be safeguarded."
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