3i may sell Agent Provocateur amid KPMG accounting probe

Struggling lingerie retailer Agent Provocateur could be sold as it faces an investigation over its accounting practices

KPMG has been appointed to investigate irregularities which surfaced after a board reshuffle.

Agent Provocateur’s owner, private equity house 3i, is in preliminary talks with several parties over potential investment or a possible sale and has attracted interest from sovereign wealth funds and high-net worth individuals.

Gary Hogarth, Agent Provocateur’s chief executive for eight years, left the company last February and Fabrizio Malverdi, former managing director of Dior Homme, took up the post.

In November 2016, 3i wrote down the value of its 80% stake by £39m, its largest writedown in the first half of last year even though Agent Provocateur only represents 1% of its portfolio.

In November, 3i said: ‘We are supporting the new management team to put in place a new strategic plan, which involves a restructuring of the business.

‘Agent Provocateur is still a valuable brand and, as part of this restructuring, we have provided further investment of £4m in the quarter to 30 September 2016.’

As a result, the retailer is expected to scale back its retail network by 30%, while staff at its London headquarters will be reduced by a third.

Both 3i and KPMG declined to comment.

Calum Fuller |Assistant editor, Accountancy magazine (up to 2018)

Calum Fuller is former assistant editor of Accountancy magazine and Accountancy Daily, published by ...

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