British fashion chain Ted Baker draws U.S. takeover interest

By Chris Peters

(Reuters) -Sycamore Partners is in the early stage of making a possible cash offer for fashion retailer Ted Baker, the private equity firm said on Friday, in the latest sign of strong U.S. interest in taking over British entities.

New York-based Sycamore, which specialises in deals in the struggling retail sector, has until April 15 to make a firm offer for the London-listed Ted Baker. Sycamore said there was no certainty an offer would be made and did not disclose what the terms might be for any deal.

Ted Baker said it has not received an offer but would evaluate any proposal, although it was confident in its independent prospects.

Shares of the upmarket retailer jumped 20% on Friday but were still trading just above a pound each, compared with the nearly 30 pounds it was worth in 2015, giving it a current market valuation of nearly 220 million pounds ($289.26 million), Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

Takeover interest in British companies, ranging from defence groups to a leading supermarket, is its highest in years, as the pandemic and uncertainties linked to Britain's departure from the European Union have reduced valuations.

Ted Baker is in the middle of three-year turnaround plan under boss Rachel Osborne as it tries to boost its online presence and rebuild its image after profit warnings and accounting issues.

Osborne took charge in 2019 in a management reshuffle that included the exit of former chief executive Ray Kelvin following allegations of inappropriate behaviour. Kelvin has denied the allegations and retains a nearly 12% stake in the company he founded in 1988 in Glasgow.

Ted Baker, which has nearly 400 locations mostly in Europe, North America and the United Kingdom, said in February it was "cautiously optimistic" about outlook for the current year as people slowly return to working in offices.

($1 = 0.7606 pounds)

(Reporting by Chris Peters in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Anil D'Silva and Barbara Lewis)

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