Sunday 29 January 2017 3:43 pm

More than 12 offers on the table for Agent Provocateur

Retail and leisure reporter

Retail and leisure reporter

Follow Alys Key

At least a dozen offers have been made for troubled lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, according to sources familiar with the chain's owner.

Private equity company 3i put the retailer up for sale this month following disappointing December trading. The firm is seeking an offer which exceeds the brand's £30m debt pile.

Sources close to the deal told City A.M. that while some offers fall below this threshold, others are above the desired £30m.

They also said that the pool of potential buyers is not limited to turnaround funds, but also includes strategic bidders and some family offices.

The board and shareholders of Agent Provocateur are confirmed to be making a decision later this week on preferred bidders.

Offers under consideration include a bid from Endless LLP, which previously rescued loss-making Crown Paints, bringing profits up to £20m a year.

TV businessman Theo Paphitis, owner of rival lingerie retailer Boux Avenue, is also confirmed to be entering the bidding war.

Alteri Investors has an offer on the table as well, with the backing of US private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

If no deal is reached Barclays, the company's lender, is primed to take control.

This is not the first time 3i has considered offloading its majority stake in the chain. In 2014 the company hired Goldman Sachs to conduct a strategic review, but decided against a sale following results which suggested there was still potential for growth.

However, Agent Provocateur had a rough year in 2016 when it was hit by an accounting scandal over concerns that it may have overstated its profits.

Last week it was reported that the brand's current chief executive Fabrizio Malverdi is unlikely to stay on once a new investor has been agreed.

Earlier this month, 3i was considering the sale of another High Street retailer, mid-market womenswear brand Hobbs. There has been no further development announced for the proposed £80m deal.

Agent Provocateur was founded by Joe Corre, son of designer Vivienne Westwood, in 1994 with his then wife Serena Rees. The former couple sold the brand to 3i for £60m in 2007.