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Mike Ashley doubles Debenhams offer to gain further stake in UK high streets

PUBLISHED: 09:46 27 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:28 27 March 2019

Mike Ashley has doubled his bid to buy Debenhams. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Mike Ashley has doubled his bid to buy Debenhams. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2009

Mike Ashley has revealed he is considering paying double for shares in Debenhams, in his bid to take over the chain.

The Sports Direct tycoon has been making offers on the department store retailer for a number of months, and has now said he would buy 70% of the firm’s shares for 5p - which are currently valued at 2p.

It would be another stake in high streets across the county if Mr Ashley were to be successful, with Debenhams stores in Norwich, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth.

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Only last year, Mr Ashley also purchased House of Fraser. The chain’s outlet in Norwich was originally set to close but was saved following negotiations in the eleventh hour.

Mr Ashley’s possible bid would now value Debenhams at £61.4m.

Debenhams has so far resisted overtures by the billionaire, favouring its own £200m refinancing plan with its lenders which would wipe out existing shareholders such as Mr Ashley.

In a statement late on Tuesday evening, Chris Wootton, deputy finance chief at Sports Direct, said: “Debenhams shareholders, both major and minority, are sick and tired of being ignored, cast aside and trampled underfoot by the lenders of Debenhams who, through the incompetence or, worse, collusion of the board, are allowing these critical stakeholders in the business to be wiped out. This is the shareholders’ chance to fight back.

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“We reiterate our prior comments that we will leave no stone unturned in pursuing those responsible for this long-planned theft.”

As part of the condition of the Sports Direct proposed offer, Mr Ashley, who owns just under 30% of Debenhams, would be immediately installed as chief executive of the ailing high street firm.

Debenhams has said it will give any firm takeover offer from Mr Ashley’s Sports Direct “due consideration” but added that it would not solve its mounting funding crisis.

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