Is Ray Kelvin planning Ted Baker comeback via private equity buyout?
Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton is back in charge at the company he left over a year ago and now there are reports that Ray Kelvin, who left Ted Baker after the forced hugging scandal in the spring, could make a comeback at the company he founded.
The Mail on Sunday said at the weekend that Kelvin has been mulling a buyout of the listed company. Sources told the newspaper that with his holding adding up to more than third of the firm’s shares (actually 35%), he could make a move that would take it private and see him back in the driving seat, although he reportedly plans to leave current management in their roles.
And that’s where his plan would diverge from the direction taken over at Superdry. There, Dunkerton was also the largest shareholder but the relationship between him and management had broken down, resulting in his hostile comeback campaign and the management team being ousted.
Kelvin, by contrast, worked happily with Ted Baker’s management before the adverse publicity that caused him to step down.
The company has been listed on the London Stock Exchange for over two decades and for much of that time has been a hotly tipped pick for investors seeking shares with growth potential. However, its performance in recent periods, the severe headwinds buffeting fashion retail and the negative PR linked to Kelvin have seen the shares falling. They were changing hands at £31.36 each in March last year, but closed last week at £8.38.
While that will have dented the wealth of many shareholders and especially of Kelvin, it also makes a buyout more affordable. The firm’s market capitalisation is now around £373 million rather than the almost £1.4 billion it once was. A private equity firm could buy control, with Kelvin’s support, for less than £250 million.
The newspaper also said that current CEO Lindsay Page would be invited to run the business with Kelvin, although there’s no certainty that a buyout move will be made. The sources didn’t know whether the “discreet” moves have progressed beyond initial talk.
Neither Ted Baker nor Kelvin commented on the Mail on Sunday story.
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