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Mike Ashley cherry-picks best assets in acquisition of upmarket lingerie brand

By Staff Reporters

Mike Ashley has slipped into the lingerie market by acquiring struggling retailer Agent Provocateur out of administration.

The billionaire Sports Direct owner has picked up the firm, which has 10 stores in the UK and employs around 600 people, via a pre-pack administration.

The pre-pack process involves a pre-arranged buyer cherry-picking the best assets of a firm at a knockdown price immediately after its collapse.

Mr Ashley, who also owns Newcastle United FC, has bought the retail chain from private equity firm 3i through his investment vehicle Four Holdings.

Administrator AlixPartners said: "We would like to thank all the staff and stakeholders for their support during this process and we wish the business and its new owners all the best for the future."

The amount paid by Mr Ashley is thought to be around £25m and adds to his stable of more upmarket brands, such as Flannels.

However, the co-founder of Agent Provocateur warned 3i and its partners could face legal action after allegedly rejecting a higher offer it claims would have safeguarded hundreds of jobs.

Joe Corre, son of renowned fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, said Quadro Capital led by Giedrius Pukas had tabled a larger £35m deal that would "protect the brand, protect creditors and protect 650 jobs".

"Mike Ashley's Sports Direct, who are lined up to pick at a carcass, plan to keep the brand, the stock and not much else," he said.

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