Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct Sells US Firm Shares

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct Sells US Firm Shares for £34.8m
Mike Ashley’s retail empire Sports Direct has sold off its stake in US retailer Finish Line for more than £34m. The chain had spent several years gradually building up a 19.3% stake in the firm before it was acquired by rival JD Sports.

Sports Direct directly owned 3,632,000 shares which equates to 8.8% of the American footwear business.

The divestment announcement comes after JD Sports completed its $558m (£396m) acquisition of Finish Line.

How much the Newcastle United owner’s firm has made from the sale of the shares in terms of profit isn’t clear, as the shares were acquired over several buy-ups at different values. Its direct shares ownership, however, would mean that its holding in Finish Line was worth £34.8m when it was divested.

Finish Line is one of the US’s largest retailers of athletic footwear and accessories. The firm has 556 branded stores across 44 US states and Puerto Rico, and employs around 13,000 members of staff. It is also the exclusive retailer of athletics shoes for high end retailer Macy’s.

Sports Direct has now bought more shares in the Iconix Brand Group, representing 8.6% of the issued common stock of the company, and earlier this month it nominated four people to stand for election on the Iconix board. Iconix Brand Group is a brand management company which owns brands across fashion, sports, entertainment and home including Artful Dodger, Candie’s, Bongo, Joe Boxer, Rampage, London Fog, Mossimo and Cannon.

Last week House of Fraser bowed to pressure from Mike Ashley and handed a business plan to the sports tycoon following legal action. The billionaire entrepreneur, who owns an 11% stake in House of Fraser through Sports Direct, filed a court injunction earlier this year to demand a copy of the document, claiming he had been “frozen out”.  House of Fraser’s management has now sent the document to Mr Ashley, it is understood, handing him crucial information that could aide a dramatic swoop on the business.

Mr Ashley also owns stakes in Debenhams, French Connection and Agent Provacateur and has long been linked with a takeover of House of Fraser.