Asos shares continued to surge yesterday after it bought parts of Sir Philip Green’s stricken retail empire.
The stock has risen 13 per cent in the two days since it sealed the £295million takeover of Miss Selfridge, Topman and most significantly Topshop – the jewel in the crown of the once mighty Arcadia group.
Asos is valued at just over £5billion – almost twice as much as Marks & Spencer at £2.7billion.
Anders Povlsen (pictured with his wife Anne) is Britain’s biggest private landowner and Asos’s biggest shareholder with a stake worth more than £1.3bn
Its roaring success has been a boon for a cast of colourful City characters who have backed it along the way.
Britain’s biggest private landowner
The biggest shareholder in Asos is billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen who holds a stake of more than £1.3billion.
The Dane, whose net worth is estimated to be £6.4billion, owns stakes in some of Europe’s best-known retail brands, including the ‘German Asos’ Zalando, and Klarna, a leading ‘buy now, pay later’ consumer credit firm.
He also owns eight fashion brands through his retail empire Bestseller including Jack & Jones, which is sold in the UK via Asos’s website.
The 48-year-old and his wife Anne are Britain’s biggest private landlords after buying up 220,000 acres of Scottish estates, which he plans to re-wild to ‘repair the harm that man has inflicted on them’.
Last week he came up against Frasers Group boss Mike Ashley in a row over Scotland’s best-known department store, Jenners, on Princes Street, Edinburgh.
Ashley said Povlsen had failed to agree to a realistic rent forcing him to shut the store with the loss of 200 jobs.
Povlsen suffered a tragedy in 2019 when three of his four children were killed in the bombings in Sri Lanka, during a holiday at Easter. Last March the couple welcomed twins.
The great grandson of Austin Reed
Co-founder: Nick Robertson is the great-grandson of retailer Austin Reed
Nick Robertson, great-grandson of retailer Austin Reed, founded Asos in 2000 and ran it until 2015.
The 53-year-old said that in the early days he and his team ‘spent our afternoons walking around Topshop and our mornings looking at Amazon’.
In 2016 Robertson was forced to sell off £70million of shares – a third of his fortune at the time – to fund a divorce settlement with his ex-wife, Janine, after he moved in with a PA, 15 years his junior.
He sold another £15million of shares in 2019 and a further £13.6million in November last year, following a boom in pandemic shoppers ordering comfy clothes at home in lockdown.
But Robertson is still one of the largest investors with around 3.6m shares worth almost £169million.
The polar explorer
Polar explorer Andrew Regan, who runs investment house Corvus Capital, was also a founder shareholder of Asos.
The 55-year-old from Manchester sold out when Asos, then known as As Seen on Screen, floated with a valuation of £12million.
Missing out: Founder shareholder Andrew Regan, who runs investment house Corvus Capital, sold out when Asos, then known as As Seen on Screen, floated with a valuation of £12m
But as Asos struggled to get off the ground when the world of online fashion retail was still nascent, he was mired in murky goings-on around his bid for the Co-op.
In 1997 he had launched an audacious £1.2billion hostile takeover for what is now the Co-operative Group, hoping to break up the struggling mutual and make a fortune.
But he was caught up in a bribery investigation following the discovery of an alleged illicit meeting in a car park, and accused of stealing £2.4million.
The bid collapsed and it took close to eight years and three Serious Fraud Office trials before a jury acquitted Regan, who by this time lived in Monaco with his model wife Nikki and six children.
The serial entrepreneur
Quentin Griffiths started in business with Robertson at a marketing agency in 1996 and was there with him when Asos was launched in 2000.
The 53-year-old stayed with Asos until 2005, by which time its share price on the junior AIM market had tripled.
He sold £15million of Asos shares in 2010, and cashed in another tranche in 2013. He has since sued his accountants at BDO, saying he had been given the wrong advice on how to avoid tax on the sale.
The bungled advice, he claimed, ended up costing him more than £4million in tax on the sales of more than £10million of shares in Asos and Achica, an online retailer he also co-founded.
Nick Beighton has been chief executive of Asos since 2015
The current leadership
Nick Beighton has been chief executive since 2015 having been appointed finance chief in 2009.
The Asos chairman is Adam Crozier, the former boss of ITV, Royal Mail and The Football Association.
Beighton, 52, owns shares worth £9.1million and was paid £1.6million last year.
Crozier, 57, has shares worth just over £1million.
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