Sir Philip Green enlisted HSBC to help him find a buyer for his Arcadia retail empire, according to a leaked email.
The message, obtained by The Sunday Times, casts doubt on the tycoon’s denial of reports he was plotting a sale of the group, which includes Topshop and Miss Selfridge.
Sir Philip discussed plans to sell Arcadia over dinner with HSBC CEO Ian Stuart and managing director David Barraclough, the email shows.
In the message to his colleagues, Barraclough said Green had become concerned by a ballooning pension deficit within Arcadia that was set to hit £900m and realised he might have to sell Topshop to a buyer, potentially from China, to raise enough funds to plug the gap.
“As emotions were running high, PG’s [Philip Green’s] thinking was the need to sell, and having heard my comments . . . [he] sought our assistance and offered to meet any Chinese prospective partner we consider appropriate,” he continued.
“After further discussion, PG agreed to source a sale solution. The strategy should be to sell Topshop/Topman separate to the rest of the Arcadia portfolio of lesser brands. Whilst the Topshop/Topman sale should be straightforward, he accepts residual Arcadia will be a tougher ask and may need to be sold by way of individual brands over a protracted period.”
Barraclough added that Green planned to use any proceeds from a sale of Topshop to pare down Arcadia’s pension deficit and realised that the funding shortfall was his responsibility and “entirely for his a/c [account].”
“Whilst the Topshop/Topman sale should be straightforward, he accepts residual Arcadia will be a tougher ask and may need to be sold by way of individual brands over a protracted period,” he said.
This leak follows Green’s direct denial of the sale last week, after a similar plan was reported.
Arcadia told the Sunday Times in a statement that reports he had met with HSBC were “totally untrue”, as were any suggestions Arcadia “has been seeking a buyer for some time”.