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Mike Shearwood rules out imminent Karen Millen MBO

Karen Millen boss Mike Shearwood has poured cold water on the idea of an impending management buyout at the womenswear chain, following his departure from the board of Aurora Fashions.

Responding to a report in The Sunday Telegraph on January 4 that said his exit from Aurora could clear the way for him to launch the MBO, Shearwood told Drapers: “I was the chief executive of Aurora, and only executive director, until November 2014. I resigned from my position as Aurora is almost at the position of dissolution as an entity.

“Karen Millen has been separate since 2012, but I only took over as [its] chief executive in mid-2013, not at [the time of the] demerger as was reported.”

Karen Millen was spun off from Aurora, which also owns Coast, Oasis and Warehouse, in 2011. Aurora is majority owned by the winding-up committee of now-defunct Icelandic bank Kaupthing, which is in the process of breaking up the group to make it easier to sell the individual brands to new investors.

Like Shearwood, Coast chief executive Kate Bostock has also previously hinted that an MBO could be in her plans.

However, a source close to the situation said: “Before anyone can even consider an MBO the independent businesses need to refinance, as the term debt is due shortly and even then Kaupthing may decide to hold their position. Who knows? I don’t even believe they do.”

Separately, Drapers believes the dissolution of the Aurora group will continue over the next few months, where, as expected, Oasis and Warehouse will become a separate single entity, as will Coast.

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