How the sale of the collapsed Wilko became a farce

How the sale of the collapsed Wilko became a farce

Hope for rescue: Doug Putman received bizarre voice messages from fellow bidder Robert Mantse

Hope for rescue: Doug Putman received bizarre voice messages from fellow bidder Robert Mantse

The Wilko farce has highlighted the way in which the sale of failed businesses can lead to a race against all charlatans and scammers.

Sources in the sales process expressed disappointment this weekend that PwC, the administrators, were forced to consider any offer, no matter how untrustworthy or unprofessional it might be.

They say it wasted valuable time while the clock is ticking to save jobs.

It’s also prolonging the agony for 12,000 staff who fear losing their jobs at one of Britain’s best-known high-street chains.

News last weekend that Anglo-Canadian private equity firm M2 Capital had put forward a £89m bid for the ailing company was a sign that all hope was not lost. The employees had previously been informed that there were no bidders for the entire company and that they had to reckon with impending layoffs.

M2 Capital pledged to save all branches and jobs for at least two years and increase employee salaries by 3.5 percent.

But talks with the new applicant stalled after the administration pressed for details on his funding, business plan and legal representation.

Emails between the private equity group’s chairman Robert Mantse and administrators seen by The Mail on Sunday underscore the extent of the chaos.

Administrators faced confusing and bizarre exchanges, such as Mantse calling an insolvency expert a “silly rabbit.”

He opened one email with “Hola” and signed others telling PwC employees to “be cool” or with his Instagram name “”.

In another absurd twist, Mantse approached another suitor and asked him to work with him after his own offer was turned down.

Now, Canadian billionaire behind HMV, Doug Putman, is believed to be front runners in talks with a deal that would save hundreds of stores and thousands of jobs.

Sources close to the deal earlier this week expressed confidence that there would be further developments.

Mantse sent Putman a idiosyncratic voice message via WhatsApp, which The Mail heard on Sunday, in which he said: ‘You’re cooler than me man I checked your Instagram.’ Way cooler.’ But he also added other – far less flattering – remarks.

Robert Mantse has been contacted for comment.

Drew Weisholtz

Drew Weisholtz is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Drew Weisholtz joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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