Sports Direct issued a statement on Wednesday evening confirming that it does not intend to make a bid for Debenhams in the near future.
Speculation over a Debenhams takeover by Sports Direct has been rife for weeks after it emerged that Sports Direct had amassed an almost 30 per cent stake in the department store in the past few years, just beneath the mandatory takeover threshold.
Rumours were spurred on further after Sports Direct rescued House of Fraser from administration in August.
At Sports Direct’s Annnual General Meeting (AGM) yesterday, outgoing senior non-executive director Simon Bentley said a Debenhams takeover had been discussed but that the business “might have our hands full” with House of Fraser, so a move wasn’t likely to be made in the near future.
London regulatory body The Takeover Panel was forced to intervene and ask Sports Direct to clarify their intentions in a statement.
“Further to recent press speculation in relation to Debenhams plc, Sports Direct confirms that it does not intend to make an offer to acquire the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of Debenhams plc,” the statement read.
“This announcement is made in accordance with Rule 2.8 of the Code. As a result of this announcement, Sports Direct will, except with the consent of the UK Panel on Takeovers and Mergers, be bound by the restrictions contained in Rule 2.8 of the Code,” it explained.
While Sports Direct may not make a bid within the next six months, it does mean the retailer has the right to change its mind should there be a large-scale change in circumstance at Debenhams, or if it has the full backing of the Debenhams board, or even in the event of a rival bid.