Och-Ziff, the American hedge fund which backs fast-fashion chain Peacocks, has emerged as the largest shareholder in Debenhams with an 11 % stake in the department store.
Och-Ziff bought 9% from TPG, the private equity group which floated Debenhams in 2006.
At the same time, Debenhams finance director Chris Woodhouse offloaded most of his stake in the department store.
Woodhouse sold nearly three-quarters of his holding in a transaction worth £7.2m between October 22 and October 28. Woodhouse now has a 0.24% stake in Debenhams.
According to reports, Woodhouse’s decision to sell the shares was made for personal reasons.
Woodhouse and chief executive Rob Templeman and chairman John Lovering were drafted in to Debenhams by private equity company CVC in 2003.
Lovering announced his intention to step down as chairman next year. CVC exited Debenhams when it raised £323m in a capital raising in June.
One unnamed analyst quoted in The Times said: “There’s a feeling that Debenhams is moving on from the private equity days, which will be more pleasing to its institutional shareholders.”
Last week the company reported annual profits of £125 million, up 14 per cent.