LONDON — Superdry shares soared more than 100% on Friday, as the embattled British fashion retailer confirmed that co-founder and CEO Julian Dunkerton is considering taking it private.
The stock peaked at 48.55 pence per share shortly before 11 a.m. London time and was last trading at around 46p per share.
A recent slump in sales and a falling share price have led to speculation that Superdry, which listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2010, may become a takeover target. The rumors intensified this week, when it emerged that Norwegian hedge fund First Seagull had built a 5.3% stake in the company, making it the second largest shareholder behind Dunkerton, according to LSEG data.
The company confirmed in a market update on Friday that Dunkerton had requested “permission to begin exploring the possibility of making an offer for the company,” and to begin talks with potential financial backers, which the business accepted.
“Julian Dunkerton has since confirmed to the Transaction Committee that he is engaged in discussions with potential financing partners (“Potential Sponsors”) for the purposes of considering options in respect of the Company, which may include a possible cash offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of the Company, not already owned by him,” Superdry said.
“These discussions are at a preliminary stage and no decisions have been made.”
Dunkerton has until March 1 to submit an offer or walk away under the U.K. Takeover Panel’s regulations.
Dunkerton co-founded Superdry as a market stall in Cheltenham, England in 2003, before expanding to become one of the U.K.’s largest high street fashion retailers.
Superdry’s share price peaked above £20 ($25.52) per share in January 2018, shortly before Dunkerton left the business due to a disagreement over its commercial direction.
He returned to the helm on the back of a boardroom coup the following year, but the company’s share price has remained in general decline as the U.K.’s cost-of-living crisis hammered the retailer. The stock closed Thursday’s trade at just over 21 pence per share.