Lenders ask PwC to sell troubled Jane Norman

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The Independent Online

Jane Norman has kicked off a process to sell the young fashion chain after a troubled few years.

The accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is handling the sale, which is thought to have been driven by the banks. Jane Norman has more than 200 shops and concessions in the UK, the Middle East and Europe, and employs thousands of staff.

It is likely that Debenhams will be a key player in the process, as Jane Norman has a large number of profitable concessions inside the department store chain. Debenhams has a change of ownership clause with the young womenswear chain. This means it could terminate Jane Norman's concession agreement if it is bought by a third party.

Debenhams and PwC declined to comment, while Jane Norman did not respond to requests for comments. Jane Norman is expected to go through an accelerated sales process, industry sources said.

Jane Norman was bought by Baugur, the defunct Icelandic retail investment group, and Kaupthing, the collapsed Icelandic bank, for £117m in 2005. But following the Icelandic banking crisis, it was forced into a debt-for-equity swap with its banks in January 2009. A syndicate of 15 lenders took control of 80 per cent of its shares and restructured Jane Norman's debts of £136m.

Earlier this year, Saj Shah, who had been its chief executive for 16 years, took early retirement. He was replaced by Ian Findlay, the former finance director and deputy chief executive. Jane Norman's underlying profits were flat at £15.3m for the year to 27 March 2010.