SALE TALK AT AGENT PROVOCATEUR: Could Agent Provocateur be on the block? According to British press reports, companies, including the private equity firm 3i, have been mulling a purchase of the 13-year-old innerwear firm. However, a spokeswoman for Agent Provocateur — which is known for its high-end yet risqué lingerie — dismissed the reports as "speculation." "The board is considering a variety of different avenues," she said, who declined to elaborate as to whether the company was looking for a buyer or additional shareholders. A spokeswoman for 3i, whose investments include a 45 percent stake in Selective Beauty, the company that manufactures and distributes Agent Provocateur's fragrances, could not be reached for comment.
Since the brand's co-founders, Joe Corre and Serena Rees, were reported to have separated last year, speculation has swirled as to what the future of the business would be. Last year, Garry Hogarth, a supply chain consultant for the firm, was quoted as saying he was looking to take a stake in the brand, but the company's spokeswoman said he remains at the firm solely as a consultant.
One London-based investor said an overly ambitious price tag on the brand had put investors off the company in the past, "considering there is no proof yet of a [large] U.S. business," but added that "with the right valuation, this brand could sell." The investor also said Corre and Rees' separation could make potential buyers nervous. "Will they continue to present a united front [or] will one eventually want to cash out when the other wants to hang in there?"