La Senza sold for a token pounds 1

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LA SENZA, the loss-making chain of 52 ladies' lingerie shops which listed on the AIM market two years ago at 160p a share, was sold for a song yesterday after Suzy Sher Equities sold its 60 per cent controlling stake for a token pounds 1 to Xunely, a newly created company controlled by Theo Paphitis and his family, the owners of Rymans the stationers and Contessa Ladieswear.

Other shareholders in La Senza will receive 10p cash for their shares. The Canadian-based company Suzy Sher agreed to sell its stake for a nominal sum in return for an indemnity from Xunely covering pounds 1.9m worth of guarantees on financial leases given by Suzy Sher.

A spokesman for Suzy Sher said yesterday that the sale to Xunely was in the best interests of La Senza, and Xunely had the skills and experience to turn La Senza into profit over time. The group has struggled to establish itself in the UK and announced a pounds 2.9m loss in the six months to August last year. Three further profit warnings followed for the current year and the share price continued to slide.

In February La Senza's chief executive Joel Teitelbaum confirmed the group was talking to several suitors, who were thought to include Contessa, the Ann Summers lingerie chain and the Tulchan Group, which owns Sock Shop. But talks were discontinued after La Senza management rejected offers from all three companies thought to be worth around 25p a share.