3i buys out Agent Provocateur

UK-based private equity firm 3i Group has taken a substantial majority stake in Agent Provocateur, according to industry sources. The sources claim that the total value of the transaction is about £60m (US$124m), part of which will be used to fund the international expansion of the lingerie retailer.

As designated chairman of Agent Provocateur, 3i has appointed Stuart Rose, the former deputy chairman and managing director of The Body Shop.

In October 2007, reports claimed that Marks & Spencer Group was considering buying the licence for its Agent Provocateur-designed Salon Rose underwear in order to ensure that the brand will continue to be sold in its stores.

Agent Provocateur was founded in 1994 by Joseph Corre and Serena Rees. Corre will be staying with the business as Creative Director.

Rees said: “From the conception of Agent Provocateur in Soho in ’94, we have provoked thought and reaction, we brought lingerie to the forefront of fashion, brought sexuality out into the open and have given sex a sense of luxury.”