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Takeover bid lodged for struggling Laura Ashley

US investment company Flacks is considering making a bid for Malaysian-owned, British fashion retailer Laura Ashley.

The firm is in the “very preliminary stages” of a takeover bid for the brand. Any possible takeover offer will be limited to 2.748p in cash per share, resulting in an overall valuation for the retailer at around £20 million (US$26.38 million), according to an announcement by the firm confirming the details.

If Flacks buys Laura Ashley, it is expected to primarily focus on the US market and other non-European markets.

“As far as I am concerned, there is no takeover bid because there has been no approach whatsoever,” Laura Ashley chairman Andrew Khoo told investors on Monday, a day prior to Flacks’ announcement. “If and when an approach is made, the board will discharge its duties as always and assess it on its relative merits.

“I would, however, like to state for the record that as major shareholders of Laura Ashley, we have no intention of divesting our controlling stake,” he continued. “Whilst I understand why potential parties would think we are significantly undervalued, I have complete confidence that we will be able to grow profitably and in a sustainable manner so as to create long-term value for our shareholders.”

A recent report issued by the firm warned that its full-year profits would “fall short of market expectations” following announced plans to close around 30 of its remaining 120 stores to control costs in the firm’s competitive and sluggish market. The firm filed a £1.5 million ($1.98 million) loss in the final half of last year.

Laura Ashley’s Australian business collapsed late last year, but in December Khoo said he believed the brand’s future lied in Asia, where he was planning expansion.

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