Patisserie Valerie May Be Set for Rival Ashley, Carlyle Bids

(Bloomberg) -- Sportswear billionaire Mike Ashley may be set to face off against U.S. private-equity giant Carlyle Group LP in bidding for Patisserie Valerie, the British bakery chain that collapsed last month.

Ashley’s Sports Direct International Plc said after markets closed Friday that it offered to buy the assets of Patisserie Holdings Plc, which is being administered by KPMG in the wake of an accounting scandal.

A day earlier, the Wall Street Journal reported that Carlyle’s special situations unit is also weighing a bid for the cafe chain. The Journal, which cited people it didn’t identify, also said there were a number of financial buyers interested in the business.

The bakery chain is a well-known fixture on Britain’s shopping streets, and KPMG has said it plans to keep about 120 of roughly 200 outlets open as it seeks a buyer. The accounting firm has also said it’s "pleased with the level of interest” from potential buyers. The shares haven’t traded since October.

The cafe group’s collapse in late January after more than 90 years in business resulted in 920 job losses and followed an investigation that revealed thousands of false entries in its accounts. The company was unable to raise money to pay its debts, and had made a last-ditch bid to raise new funding from its lenders, which include HSBC Holdings Plc and Barclays Plc.

Ashley, who founded Britain’s largest sporting-goods chain, is worth about $3 billion. He’s swooped on several struggling retailers recently, acquiring House of Fraser department stores and bidding for HMV Group Plc. His offer for the record-store chain, which was also administered by KPMG, was surpassed by a Canadian buyer earlier this month.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.