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Online fashion giant Shein approaches Sajid Javid ahead of blockbuster IPO

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Sajid Javid, the former chancellor of the exchequer, has been approached about taking a role at Shein, the online fashion giant which is progressing plans for London’s biggest stock market float for years.

Sky News has learnt that Mr Javid is among a number of senior City figures who have held talks with Donald Tang, Shein’s executive chairman, in recent weeks.

City sources said that if the appointment of Mr Javid proceeded, it could see him either join Shein’s board or become an adviser to the Chinese-founded company.

They added that Baroness Fairhead, the former BBC Trust chair, was also on a list of candidates drawn up by headhunters advising Shein.

One person close to the company said the identities of those being approached reflected both the seriousness with which Shein was taking the issue of corporate governance and the extent of its focus on a London listing.

Since leaving the government, Mr Javid has taken a role with Centricus, an investment firm which tried unsuccessfully to structure an offer for Chelsea Football Club in 2022.

A spokesman for him, who had insisted that Mr Javid would stand for re-election in his Bromsgrove seat a week before publicly announcing the opposite, did not respond to a request for comment from Sky News.

In recent weeks, several reports have repeated Sky News’ revelation that Shein has turned its attention to a London flotation amid difficulties in securing approval from US regulators.

An initial public offering would be likely to value Shein at around £50bn or more.

Paris is also understood to have been considered by the company as a possible listing venue.

Earlier this year, Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, held talks with Donald Tang, Shein’s executive chairman, to persuade the company to commit to what would be one of London’s biggest-ever corporate flotations.

The meeting between Mr Hunt and Mr Tang underlined the importance that British officials are attaching to the idea of trumping the US in an effort to land the Shein IPO.

If it proceeded, Shein could become the London Stock Exchange’s second-largest IPO in history, behind the 2011 stock market debut of Glencore International, the commodities trading and mining group.

Mr Tang has also met executives from the LSE as well as more junior ministers as part of its IPO preparations.

Shein filed documents for a New York listing last year, but has grown concerned that its application may be rejected by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley are advising on the deal.

Based in Singapore, Shein has become one of the world’s largest online fashion retailers, although its growth has not been untroubled amid mounting concerns about labour standards.

Last year, Sky News revealed that Shein was in talks to buy the British fashion brand Missguided from Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group.

While the transaction itself was worth only a modest sum, retail analysts said that it could pave the way for Shein to build a more meaningful profile in the UK, potentially through a broader collaboration with Frasers.

Founded in China in 2012, Shein was valued at over $100bn last year, at which point it was worth more than H&M and Zara’s parent company, Inditex, combined.

The company’s valuation was slashed to $66bn as part of a share sale last year.

Shein operates in more than 150 countries.

It has also struck an agreement with SPARC Group, a joint venture between the Ted Baker-owner ABG and Simon Property Group, a US shopping mall operator.

Under that deal, SPARC’s Forever 21 fashion brand gained distribution on the Shein platform, which boasts 150m users globally.

Shein acquired a one-third stake in SPARC Group, while SPARC Group also took an undisclosed minority interest in Shein.

The LSE’s efforts to court Shein come during a challenging period for the City as a listing venue for large multinationals, with ARM Holdings, the UK-based chip designer, opting to float in New York rather than London.

Other companies, such as the gambling operator Flutter Entertainment and drug company Indivior, are planning to shift their primary listings to the US, citing higher valuations and more liquid markets.

In recent weeks, however, London has landed the prospective IPOs of Raspberry Pi, the personal computer maker, and AOTI, a medical technology provider.

Mr Hunt last week hosted a summit at Dorneywood attended by technology companies looking at listing in the UK.

Shein declined to comment.

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