Agent Provocateur Dressed Up For £200m Sale
Agent Provocateur, the upmarket lingerie chain, is being dressed up for a sale that could value it at more than £200m.
Sky News has learnt that 3i, the private equity group which controls the business, has begun sounding out investment banks including Goldman Sachs and Rothschild about conducting an auction.
3i has owned a majority stake in Agent Provocateur since 2007, since when it has expanded rapidly overseas, with 89 boutiques now open in 28 countries.
Insiders said on Thursday that 3i was likely to hire an investment bank to oversee a sale in the next few days, although they denied suggestions that other private equity firms had already been sounded out about a potential deal.
A sale of the company is unlikely to take place until next year, they added.
Agent Provocateur is known for its risque underwear and other products, and has featured celebrities including Kate Moss and Penelope Cruz, the actress, in previous promotional campaigns.
Last year, sales soared by 37%, with profits up by more than 50% to £6.2m in the 12 months to March 2013, the most recent for which figures are available.
One source said pre-tax profits in the year to March 2015 were likely to be around £15m.
"The directors continue to deliver a strategic growth plan for the expansion of the business both in the UK and internationally, with opportunities, to increase significantly the number of stores worldwide," Agent Provocateur said in its most recent statement about its performance.
"While the global economic outlook still remains unsettled, particularly in Europe, the directors are satisfied that the business is in a very robust position to move forward."
3i declined to comment.