LONDON — The board of Ted Baker said its preferred buyer for the company has ceased undertaking due diligence, and “did not intend to proceed” with an offer.
Shares in the company plummeted following the announcement and closed down more than 18 percent at 1.12 pounds on Tuesday.
Although the board never named the company it had picked for exclusive talks, it was thought to be Authentic Brands Group.
ABG has declined to comment on the process, or even confirm the negotiations. Ted Baker is under no obligation to name the suitors or potential buyers for the company.
In a brief statement issued Tuesday morning, Ted Baker said it was informed last night of the decision. It added the reason for the suitor’s withdrawal was “not linked” to its due diligence review of the company.
Ted Baker said it is still deciding whether to proceed with any of the remaining candidates that had made non-binding offers in the past months. The company reiterated that it “reserves the right to alter or terminate the sales process at any time” and reject any approaches.
According to industry sources, Bluestar Alliance is now the frontrunner in the race.
However, it is understood that Ted Baker’s balance sheet is not as robust as originally thought, and Bluestar might be able to strike a favorable deal.
Bluestar officials were unavailable for comment.
ABG recently finalized its 2.1 billion euro purchase of Reebok and earlier this year partnered with David Beckham to co-own and manage his business. ABG’s value exceeds $21 billion as measured by annual retail sales.
As reported, the criteria for any ABG acquisition is that it be a global brand with growth potential, much of it centered around licensing opportunities.
Ted Baker put itself up for sale earlier this year, and later confirmed that it had received a number of non-binding proposals. In late May, it selected its “preferred counterparty” to pursue further due diligence.
At the time, Ted Baker’s board also confirmed that Sycamore Partners Management was no longer participating in the formal sale process. It was Sycamore that initially spurred Ted Baker to put itself up for sale after making a series of unsolicited offers for the brand.
As reported, Ted Baker narrowed losses in fiscal 2022 and saw group sales climb nearly 21 percent to 428.2 million pounds in the year ended Jan. 29.
Rachel Osborne, Ted Baker’s chief executive officer, said the company is making “good progress” against its transformation plan and delivered “strong sales momentum” in 2022. She added that growth trends have continued into the current year as people return to work and socializing.
Group sales in the first quarter of the year were up 20 percent compared with last year, although they are 37 percent lower than the corresponding period in 2020.
The company said it has had an “encouraging” start to the second quarter, with improvement in sales trends in the U.K. and European Union.
By contrast, Ted Baker’s North America retail business has been “adversely impacted” by product availability and disruption following the transition to the e-commerce platform.
— With contributions from Lisa Lockwood