Debenhams to give ‘careful consideration" to Mike Ashley"s latest loan offer

Postado Março 16, 2019

Mike Ashley's Sports Direct has accused the Debenhams board of "deliberately misleading" the market as the retail tycoon continues to pile the pressure on the struggling high street firm.

Sports Direct said that if ever the 5 percent share issue and related conditions are approved by the independent shareholders of Debenhams, the 150 million pounds loan would be guaranteed to be interest-free.

A statement from Sports Direct says: "Sports Direct refers to the announcement of Debenhams plc (Debenhams) to the effect that Debenhams is in negotiations with its current lenders as regards entering into additional facilities of approximately £150m, £40m of which would be used to refinance the new secured £40m bridge facility announced by Debenhams on 12 February 2019".

Sports Direct owns nearly 30 percent of Debenhams.

The department store chain said any such loan would require the backing of current lenders and "material amendments" to existing facilities.

On Wednesday Sports Direct also stepped up its criticism of Debenhams' management, publishing a letter it sent to the company on March 4, the day before the deaprtment stores group's latest profit warning, accusing it of making misleading public statements.

"If such approvals were not forthcoming, the loan would bear interest at 3%". Sports Direct's proposed 5 percent extra stake in Debenhams would increasse its shareholding to around 35 percent.

In the trading statement in question, Debenhams noted it was "currently on track" to meet market expectations. A year ago the maverick businessman bought both House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, and has previously been linked to bids for Patisserie Valerie and HMV.

Eight weeks later, the retailer warned its profits would be lower after a hit to sales in the 18 weeks to January 5.

Sports Direct wants to appoint Mr Ashley to run Debenhams.

The Sports Direct letter alleged that the update on 10 January was "quite clearly misleading" in saying "we continue to generate cash" given emergency funding of £40m was needed by Debenhams "a mere five weeks later".

The letter was also shared with the FCA, in a move Sports Direct described as putting its concerns on record.

Debenhams confirmed early on Thursday morning that it had received Ashley's offer and that it was under consideration.