Clarks could soon be owned by ex-Olympic gymnast Li Ning’s investment arm Viva China, which aims to buy up 51 per cent stake in the British footwear retailer for a consideration $69 million (£51 million).
Viva had earlier helped facilitate the acquisition of business out of voluntary administration by funding a loan to LionRock, which allows Viva, to convert this debt into equity in Clarks. LionRock the founding Clark family would remain key shareholders in the business, and aims to help the business reposition for future long-term sustainable growth.
Clarks posted a $111 million loss in 2019 and called in accountants to navigate a restructure through voluntary administration last November. If the acquisition goes through it would be very substantial, but that so far no definitive agreement between Viva and LionRock has been reached. Last year Li Ning also took control of Hong-Kong listed apparel group Bossini through Viva, and announced plans to expand the business into Mainland China. According to reports, Li is a non-executive director at LionRock.