Billionaire Mike Ashley is shifting strategy in his pursuit of Debenhams, saying he’s considering a cash offer that would salvage some of his investment in the retailer.
Mr Ashley’s Sports Direct said it may make a cash offer to buy all the Debenhams shares it doesn’t own, as well as new stock. Purchasing Debenhams as a going concern would represent a U-turn from Sports Direct, which has said it would be interested in rescuing the company out of insolvency, as it did with House of Fraser.
Debenhams said there is no certainty Sports Direct will follow up with a concrete offer and any such bid would need to address immediate funding requirements and repay up to £560m (€655m) of debt.
That compares with a stock-market value of about £26m. While Debenhams rose as much as 49pc early yesterday, that only brings it back to where it was trading last week, when it said it was discussing a £200m funding package with creditors that could wipe out equity investors.
Sports Direct’s statement seems like “a desperate last-ditch attempt to remain in the race for control of Debenhams”, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Louise Parker.