Sports Direct investment vehicle buys Agent Provocateur

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Agent Provocateur has been sold to Sports Direct-backed firm Four Holdings, after going into administration.

It has been reported that the firm paid around £25m for the retailer after seeing off competition from private equity firm Lion Capital.

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct holds a 25% stake in Four Marketing, which represents brands including Guess, 7 for All Mankind and Orla Kiely.

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The sale was conducted through what is known as a pre-pack administration, where a buyer has been lined up before it is officially put into administration.

Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

Agent Provocateur was sold by private equity firm 3i, which acquired the retailer in 2007.

Troubles began to emerge at the company in November, when an accountancy error, which caused 3i to write down the value of the business by £39 million, led chairman Chris Woodhouse to step down from his position.

3i brought in restructuring firm AlixPartners in January and Agent Provocateur was put up for sale.

Mike Ashley entered the bidding race earlier this week, with other bidders including French womenswear brand Etam, Lion Capital and Terra Firma Capital Partners.

The Times reported that Ashley hopes to retain Agent Provocateur’s 111 stores and sell the products in his USC stores in an effort to move it further upmarket.

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