Rescue hope: Doug Putman received bizarre voice messages from rival bidder Robert Mantse
The farce surrounding Wilko has shone a spotlight on the way in which sales of collapsed companies can descend into a free-for-all including charlatans and chancers.
Sources close to the sales process this weekend expressed frustration that PwC, the administrators, have been obliged to give consideration to every offer, no matter how implausible or unprofessional.
They say this has wasted precious time when the clock is ticking to save jobs.
It is also prolonging the agony for 12,000 staff, who fear they may be out of a job at one of Britain’s best-known High Street chains.
News last weekend that Anglo-Canadian private equity firm M2 Capital had tabled a £89 million bid for the stricken firm came as a sign that not all hope was lost. Previously, staff had been told there were no bidders for the entire business and should expect imminent redundancies.
M2 Capital pledged to save all stores and jobs for at least two years, as well as raising staff pay by 3.5 per cent.
But talks with the new suitor collapsed after administrators pressed for details about its financing, business plan and legal representation.
Emails between the chairman of the private equity group, Robert Mantse, and administrators seen by The Mail on Sunday underscore the depths of the chaos.
Administrators were faced with baffling and bizarre exchanges, such as Mantse calling one insolvency expert a ‘silly bunny’.
He opened one email with ‘Hola’ and signed off others with the instruction for PwC staff to ‘be cool’ or with his Instagram handle – ‘jimmy.bond.008’.
In another absurd twist, Mantse approached another suitor asking to team up, after his own bid was thrown out.
Now the Canadian billionaire behind HMV, Doug Putman, is thought to be the frontrunner in talks, with a deal that would save hundreds of stores and thousands of staff jobs.
Sources close to the deal were hopeful of further developments early this week.
Mantse sent Putman an idiosyncratic voice message via WhatsApp, heard by The Mail on Sunday, in which he said: ‘You’re cooler than me man, I looked at your Instagram. Way cooler.’ But he also added other – far less complimentary – remarks.
Robert Mantse was approached for comment.