The senior independent director of Britain’s biggest tobacco company is to take the same role at THG, the online retailer behind Cult Beauty, as it holds talks about a bid to take it private.
Sky News understands that THG will announce on Monday that Sue Farr, a former advertising executive, is joining its board.
Ms Farr, who is SID at British American Tobacco and Lookers, the car dealership network, will replace Damian Sanders, who was named THG’s chief financial officer several weeks ago.
She also serves as a director at a number of other publicly traded companies.
Her appointment to the board, the latest in a series orchestrated by chairman Charles Allen, will come amid talks about a fresh attempt to take THG back into private ownership.
City sources said Apollo Global Management was in detailed talks about an offer for the Manchester-based company that would be at a steep premium to its share price before the approach was disclosed but a huge discount to its 500p float price in 2020.
A deadline for Apollo to make a formal bid or walk away from THG falls next month.
Taking THG private would bring an end to more than two-and-a-half unhappy years as a listed business for Matthew Moulding, its founder and chief executive.
Mr Moulding has seen the company’s shares fall calamitously since its IPO, accusing unnamed hedge funds of waging a campaign to undermine it.
Last week, in a post on the professional networking site LinkedIn, he invoked the singer Alanis Morissette’s lyrics, ‘Isn’t it ironic’, as he launched a further tirade about the company’s treatment.
“A recent negative press against THG & me has had dramatically the opposite effect than intended,” he wrote.
“A throwaway line in an otherwise typically wildly inaccurate press piece, resulted in a share price spike and an obligation to make an announcement, culminating in a c.45% increase in the share price on the day. Ouch!”
Mr Moulding’s comments were viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and attracted numerous comments, many of them supportive and claiming to be from retail investors in THG.
One ally of the retailer’s founder said his video message, originally circulated to THG staff at Christmas, “highlighted the challenges associated with being listed on the UK stock market”.
The group operates a large portfolio of websites, owning brands such as the nutrition site MyProtein.
It also has a logistics and fulfilment platform called Ingenuity which works with third parties.
Founded as The Hut Group, the business has made Mr Moulding fabulously wealthy.
Previous talks about potential offers for THG, from a range of parties, stalled over the last 18 months, but many analysts expect the company’s board to recommend a deal – either with Apollo or another bidder – in the near term.
THG’s shares closed on Friday at 89.2p, giving it a market value of £1.16bn.
The talks with Apollo come during a flurry of takeover approaches for London-listed companies including Dechra, Sureserve and John Wood Group.
A THG spokeswoman declined to comment.