Retailer Ted Baker agrees takeover by US Reebok owner

Authentic Brands Group already has backing of 50.7 per cent of retailer’s shares for cut-price deal

Ted Baker has agreed a cut-price £211 million (€250.4 million) takeover by the US group that owns Reebok and a stake in David Beckham’s clothing and merchandise empire.

The board of the retailer, which has more than 500 shops and concessions around the world, has recommended shareholders approve the buyout by Authentic Brands Group (ABG).

The 110p-a-share deal for the London-listed fashion brand, which has a market value of £167 million, is far below the 160p-a-share ABG was contemplating in May as multiple potential suitors mulled bids.

However, the value of the deal is 18 per cent higher than the closing price of Ted Baker’s shares — which are down 35 per cent over the last year — on Monday.


“The directors of Ted Baker consider the terms of the acquisition to be fair and reasonable,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday. “Accordingly, the directors intend unanimously to recommend that Ted Baker shareholders vote in favour.”

Founder Ray Kelvin, who stepped down in 2019 after allegations of “forced hugging” but retains an 11.5 per cent stake in the company, said: “I am unsure if Ted Baker is still the company I once knew. However, I hope under new ownership it will regain its identity. At its core, Ted is a unique and very special brand born out of a love and passion for what we do.”

It is understood that Mr Kelvin will not be involved in the privatised company but he hinted at a potential future in fashion saying: “As hard as leaving Ted has been, to this day I feel the same passion for design and product to do it all again.”

ABG has already secured irrevocable undertakings backing the deal from shareholders accounting for 50.7 per cent of Ted Baker’s issued share capital, including interests held by its directors and Mr Kelvin.

The retailer kicked off a formal sales process in April after rejecting a series of bids from the US private equity group Sycamore Partners and others.

According to a Stock Exchange announcement made by Ted Baker in early June, “a preferred counterparty”, which had been invited to undertake confirmatory due diligence, had said it no longer intended to proceed with an offer.

ABG, which is valued at $13 billion (€12.8 billion) after selling several stakes to US private equity in recent years, has snapped up assets including Sports Illustrated magazine, Juicy Couture and brands associated with Muhammad Ali and Shaquille O’Neal, the boxing and basketball legends.

The company said on Tuesday: “ABG intends to use its global network of established operating partners with deep industry expertise, together with its business model that combines leading brand management capabilities, to enhance Ted Baker’s revenue and profitability across merchandise categories and geographic regions as it has for other acquired brands including Reebok, Brooks Brothers, Nautica and Eddie Bauer.

“ABG believes that Ted Baker is better suited to private ownership, as this will facilitate a restructuring of the business in order to maximise its future potential.”

In May, Ted Baker reported a pretax loss of £38.4 million in the year to January 30th, down from £59.2 million the year before.

Ted Baker’s shares collapsed in 2018 amid difficult trading conditions for clothing brands, and a scandal over a culture of “forced hugs” under Mr Kelvin, which led to his exit from the company. The company was then hit by the emergence of an accounting error and a string of profit warnings.

Ted Baker is attempting a turnaround under its new boss, Rachel Osborne, who took over in 2020, after its core market for suits and outfits for social events took a hit during the Covid-19 pandemic. — Guardian