House of Fraser (PRIVATE:HOF) could appoint administrators as soon as Friday following days of talks over a rescue deal for the struggling department stores group, according to media reports.
Sky News reported that bidders for the troubled retailer - including Sport Direct International PLC (LON:SPD) boss Mike Ashley and Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group owner Philip Day - were asked to submit "best and final offers" before lunchtime on Thursday.
READ: Billionaire Philip Day in early stages of potential bid for House of Fraser to save it from collapse: Sky News
The stricken department store chain must pull in fresh funding by August 20 or risk collapse through a failure to pay its bills.
That deadline, outlined by the retailer yesterday in a statement to the Luxembourg Stock Exchange where its bonds are listed, is when a number of suppliers must be paid, including a raft of in-store concessions.
Earlier this week, House of Fraser’s crucial restructuring received a boost after the retailer settled with a group of landlords who had opposed the plan.
The group of landlords had filed petitions to Scottish courts in July against House of Fraser's Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) plan, which includes the closure of 31 of its 59 stores early next year.
House of Fraser said in a statement that it had settled the litigation to remove any risk to the discussions with investors that the company was trying to conclude.
Rescue deal in doubt
The struggling department store group's CVA was approved by its creditors in June, but the rescue deal has since been thrown into doubt after C.banner, the Chinese retailer which had agreed in May to buy a 51% stake in House of Fraser, last week cancelled a planned share placing that would have funded the deal and announced a profit warning.
In the wake of the C.Banner news, Sky News reported that billionaire retailer Philip Day was in the early stages of a potential bid for House of Fraser to save it from collapse.
Meanwhile, earlier in the week, it was also reported that Mile Ashley and House of Fraser had discussed a new investment deal for the struggling retailer.
The Sports Direct founder, who already owns an 11% stake in the struggling department store, was said to have been asked to consider providing it with a £50mln loan, according to Sky News.