Berwin & Berwin, which is one of Moss Bros’s biggest suppliers, is believed interested in acquiring a 20 per cent stake in the business from Baugur, which has a 29 per cent holding.
If successful, the stakebuilding would give Berwin & Berwin the biggest stake in the business, ahead of the founding Moss and Gee families, which hold 23 per cent, and Laura Ashley, which has a near-10 per cent stake.
Insiders hope the decision by Baugur to abandon its 42p-a-share offer will lead to a period of greater stability at the retailer, which has been plagued by battling shareholders since the bid process began in February.
Baugur said this week that the risk associated with completing the takeover had become “unacceptable” after “significant changes to the composition” of the share register. This is thought to be a reference to stakebuilding by Laura Ashley, which has refused to give the company any indication of its intentions.
There was speculation this week that Moss Bros chief executive Philip Mountford will step down as the board seeks to appoint a new chairman. However, sources close to the company said Mountford had given no indication of such plans and another said that talk of Mountford’s leaving was “premature”.
Incumbent chairman Keith Hamill will resign from the board imminently, after extending his tenure to oversee the bid process.
A source said having three blocks of shareholders with different goals was an “untenable” situation for Moss Bros. Hamill said it was now up to the shareholders to create stability. “They are capable of creating stability and instability,” he said.
Baugur chief executive Gunnar Sigurdsson said the investor is “keen to continue to work with the board, management and other major shareholders”.
Baugur and Moss Bros declined to comment. Laura Ashley was unavailable for comment.