Online retail group THG has terminated a deal under which Japanese conglomerate SoftBank agreed to invest in it, blaming “global macroeconomic conditions”.
The company formerly known as The Hut Group, which has a range of internet-based health and beauty retailers, has secured $730m (£610m) in new investment from a division of SoftBank to help to finance the expansion of its technological platform a few months before its listing on the stock exchange. London.
The deal included a £900m investment option within 15 months to take a nearly 20% stake in Ingenuity, THG’s online retail services division which offers packages ranging from l delivery web hosting for brands such as Homebase, Unilever and Danone. The deal would have valued £4.5bn on this division alone, which at the time accounted for less than 1% of THG’s turnover.
THG, which owns online shopping sites Lookfantastic, Glossybox, Zavvi and Coggles, as well as beauty brands including ESPA and Illamasqua, and sports nutrition brand Myprotein, said on Tuesday that the agreement with SoftBank had been “terminated by mutual agreement between the parties with immediate effect”.
Shares of THG fell just over 1% after the announcement, bringing the company’s total stock plunge to nearly 90% since September last year. Softbank continues to hold a 6.5% stake in the technology company.
The group’s shares have long been hurt by fears that SoftBank will not accept Ingenuity’s expensive option amid concerns over the division’s growth prospects. Questions about the governance of THG under billionaire co-founder Matthew Molding have also weighed on the company.
The company’s valuation remains well below its IPO price despite hopes of a one-upmanship raised by hopes of a potential bid from real estate mogul Nick Candy.
However, Candy and another potential bidder, Belerion Capital, both said they had no intention of bidding for THG after initial approaches were rebuffed.
THG said last month that it had received proposals from “many parties” over the past few months, but all were rejected because “in the unanimous opinion of the board of directors they were unacceptable and significantly undervalued the company”. .