Billionaire property mogul Nick Candy plots bid for Matt Moulding’s Hut Group in plan to take the struggling online retailer private
Nick Candy last night emerged as a shock bidder for embattled online retailer The Hut Group.
The billionaire property mogul, who owns One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge, released a statement after markets closed saying he is ‘considering a possible offer’ to take THG private.
His Candy Ventures said it is in the ‘early stages’ of a bid.
Nick Candy (pictured with wife Holly Valance) said he is ‘considering a possible offer’ for THG founded by chief exec Matt Moulding (pictured with wife Jodie Moulding)
It is not the first takeover effort this year by the 49-year old tycoon, who is married to actress Holly Valance.
He crashed out of the bidding war to buy Premier League football club Chelsea in March after spearheading an offer backed by two South Korean firms.
The pursuits came after Candy expanded his fortune during the pandemic. Audioboom, a podcast producer in which he is the second-biggest shareholder, rocketed in value as people sought to ease the boredom of lockdown. Less auspiciously, he was also a backer of collapsed high-end fashion label Ralph & Russo.
Candy will now have until 5pm on June 16 to make a formal offer or walk away. THG declined to comment.
THG founder and chief executive Matt Moulding has himself made it publicly known he wants to take the company private after last year admitting that the firm’s life on the public market had ‘sucked from start to finish’.
Yesterday’s announcement came as the company, which has rejected a number of takeover approaches this year, confirmed it had turned down yet another bid from a consortium of investors.
The £2.07billion bid or – 170p per-share approach – from Belerion Capital Group and King Street Capital would have represented a 46 per cent premium to THG’s share price. But the retailer said the offer ‘significantly undervalued the company and its future prospects.’
Belerion has investments in other online retail groups including Asos and Boohoo. It was founded by Iain McDonald, who is the fund’s head of investment and sits on THG’s board as a non-executive director.
All eyes will be on THG’s share price when markets open today, and shareholders will be looking to see if Candy’s bid materialises.
THG sells skincare, make-up and supplements, and its brands include Lookfantastic and Myprotein. Its main divisions are beauty, nutrition and its tech arm Ingenuity.
THG was seen as the darling of the stock market on listing in 2020 – the biggest London IPO since the Royal Mail in 2013.
Shares briefly topped 800p but after a wave of corporate governance concerns and questions over the value of its tech business, shares are languishing at 116p.
The firm is well placed to fend off unwanted takeover bids, having appointed City heavyweight Charles Allen as chairman in March to rebuild relations with analysts and investors.
Moulding continues to hold his golden share despite agreeing to give it up after pressure to address governance concerns.
The golden share means Moulding can still block any takeover offer, and thus any bid will need to secure his approval.
But it hasn’t stopped several interested parties from circling, eyeing up the possibility of a cut-price takeover following the slump in its share price.
In its results last month, Moulding said the company had received takeover proposals from ‘numerous parties’ but had concluded every approach had been ‘unacceptable’ and failed to reflect the value of the business.
Others believed to be interested include private equity firms Apollo and Advent International.