Private equity business Rutland Partners is said to be investigating a potential £40m buy-out of underperforming high street chain French Connection. According to a report in today’s Sunday Times, Rutland (along with retail consultancy Quarto Advisors) began to look in detail at a potential deal for French Connection in January or February of this year when the business’ shares stood at 40p, but it is not known how far it has progressed with its investigation into a deal. A source is quoted as saying that any deal of more than 40p per share would be difficult to justify based on the current performance of the business. In the year to 31 January losses increased by fivefold to £4.7m and revenue fell 9% to £164.2m. French Connection has come under the microscope lately. Activist shareholder Gatemore Capital Management, which owns an estimated 8% stake in French Connection, has been trying to force change at the business, such as a speeding up of store closures, ditching of the FCUK logo, focusing further on young fashion and refreshing the non-exec board line-up. Read more at The Industry London.