Whistles and Phase Eight owner The Foschini Group has withdrawn a bid to buy womenswear retailer Hobbs, Drapers understands.
The South Africa-based company, which bought Phase Eight two years ago and Whistles in March last year, is understood to have made an offer to Hobbs owner 3i but terminated the agreement a few weeks ago.
Alongside The Foschini Group, it is thought that a small number of private equity companies are considering bids for the retailer – although 3i is expected to lose money on the sale: current offers said to be below the £80m asking price for the company, which has been up for sale since January.
Turnover at Hobbs fell 5.7% to £109.9m in the year to January 2016, while EBITDA rose by 18% to £7.7m.
Earlier this year 3i sold lingerie retailer Agent Provocateur to Four Holdings, in which Sports Direct owns a 25% stake.