Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman is said to be considering a tie-up with private equity firm Cinven to mount a £500m bid for furniture group DFS.
His involvement risks infuriating Debenhams shareholders and the department store group’s shareholders, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Participation in a bid while still running a stock market listed company could breach corporate governance rules about conflicts of interest, while John Lovering – who is due to stand down as Debenhams’ chairman at the end of March - is working on a separate bid for DFS with private equity group Permira.
One Debenhams shareholder told the newspaper: “There is clearly scope for conflict here.
“A chief executive’s role is a full-time job that needs 100% focus. It is not clear how you can have the time to work on a private equity bid and meet your commitments under the service contract.”
DFS founder Lord Kirkham is considering selling the business, which he took private for £507m in 2004, and is being advised by Goldman Sachs. Along with Cinven and Permira, other potential buyers are understood to include Advent International and Warburg Pincus.
Templeman has furniture sector experience, having previously run Harveys and private equity-backed Homebase.
A spokesman for Templeman declined to comment to the Telegraph.