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LionRock one of the two bidders in the frame for Clarks

Lauretta Roberts
24 September 2020

Hong Kong private equity firm LionRock Capital is reported to be one of two bidders in the frame to acquire a stake in British footwear brand Clarks in a deal which could end the founding family's control.

LionRock, whose investments include Italian football team Inter Milan and taxi hailing app Hailo, is said to be up against a bid from Alteri Investors, which specialises in financing troubled retailers, according to Sky News.

While the Clarks family is expected to retain a sizeable stake in the historic footwear firm, the deal could see their stake reduced to below 50%.

It was revealed in May that the company was looking to sell a shareholding in a bid to raise between £100m and £150m in cash. In the same month CEO Giorgio Presca announced a company restructuring that would lead to 900 jobs being cut from its global workforce, though some 200 new roles would partly offset the losses.

Around 160 redundancies were made in May with the remaining cuts to be made over a period of 18 months. Presca said at the time that the company would be focusing on three main areas of the business moving forward: Clarks Originals, Clarks Collection and Cloudsteppers by Clarks.

He also said the business was working with advisers to look at funding options. It was said in July that OpCapita, Sycamore Partners and one other party had shown initial interest in making an investment in the business.

In response to the latest report, a Clarks spokesperson said: “We recently announced Clarks’ long-term ‘Made to Last’ strategy that is designed to ensure that our business has a sustainable and successful future, keeping it in step with changes in how consumers around the world choose and buy their shoes.

“As part of this strategy the Clarks Board of Directors is currently reviewing options to best position our business, our people and the Clarks brand for future long-term growth.”

Clarks was founded by Cyrus and James Clark in Street, Somerset, in 1825. The Clarks family still retains 80% of the company spread amongst more than 400 family members.

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