The Reliance Industries owner and richest man in India, Mukesh Ambani, has dropped out of the race to buy Debenhams, the Sunday Times has reported over the weekend, having emerged only last month as one of the possible suitors for the UK department store chain.
At the time, the Reliance Industries chairman, managing director, and largest shareholder was one of a handful of parties interested in acquiring all or part of the retailer, who has suffered a major blow at the hands of the UK’s increased move to online shopping over the course of the year.
However, Ambani’s current retail empire, one that also owns the British toy retailer, Hamleys, will not encompass the Debenhams name after all, as news emerged over the weekend that Reliance Industries was no longer taking part in discussions with advisors.
A source close to the sales process was cited by The Sunday Times over the weekend.
As reported by the Retail Gazette, the investment firm Lazard has been overseeing the sale process of Debenhams’ core business in the UK, and had asked interested buyers to submit offers by 5pm on September 1.
The deadline passed with no immediate resolution, with reports earlier this month suggesting it was only a “checkpoint” to confirm if there was interest in a rescue deal.
Debenhams reportedly wanted to strike a deal by the end of September otherwise it would start exploring other options.
The department store chain began the sales process of its Danish retail business Magasin du Nord earlier in September in a bid to generate between £150 million and £200 million.
Restructuring firm Hilco Capital has also been drafted in to work on “contingency plans” for Debenhams, should a sale or other rescue be unsuccessful.