Debenhams raises £323m in share sale

The department store Debenhams moved decisively to take its debt pile off the agenda yesterday with a placing and open offer to raise £323m, ending months of speculation.

The retailer, which has 154 stores in the UK and Eire, will use the funds to pay down its net debt, which stood at £927.2m on 28 February. But Debenhams also said it could make tactical acquisitions. Alongside the fundraising, Debenhams has agreed a relaxation in its banking facilities. For the 12 weeks to 23 May, Debenhams said that pre-tax profit was ahead of last year and its underlying sales fell by 0.8 per cent.

The retailer said the shares had been placed at 80p, a 13.3 per cent discount to the closing price on 3 June. Rob Templeman, the chief executive of Debenhams, said: "It removes leverage from the agenda and it will enable people to focus on our operating performance not the balance sheet performance." The private equity firms CVC and TPG, which held 9 per cent and 12 per cent of Debenhams' shares respectively, did not participate in the fundraising and both resigned from the board. CVC also sold 51 million shares at the issue price of 80p, reducing its shareholding to 33.5 million. Debenhams' shares closed down 2 per cent at 90p.

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