Sports Direct swoops in for Findel after raising stake to 36.8%

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Sports Direct Findel
// Sports Direct will make a takeover bid for Findel, owner of online retailer Stuido.co.uk
// Mike Ashley’s firm must make a bid after raising stake to 36.8%, well over 30%
// Sports Direct previously held 29% stake and raised it after buying 6 million extra shares

Sports Direct is poised to make a takeover bid for Studio.co.uk parent company Findel after buying six million extra shares in the firm.

Mike Ashley’s retail empire snapped up the £9.66 million worth of shares in Findel from single shareholder City Financial Absolute Equity Fund.

This means Sports Direct’s stake in Findel has risen from 29.9 per cent to 36.8 per cent, well over the threshold that means Ashley’s company must make a takeover bid.

Under the Takeover Code, Sports Direct must now make a cash offer for the remaining Findel shares at a price of 161p, valuing the online retail business at almost £140 million.

A stock market announcement said Sports Direct would make the offer through an Offer Document and Form of Acceptance.

Both are expected to posted to Findel shareholders within 28 days, but no earlier than two weeks from now.

Sports Direct, of which Ashley is the founder and majority owner, has been a major shareholder in Findel since September 2015.

The firm has carried out successful pilot commercial tests of Sports Direct-licensed clothing brands on Findel’s Express Gifts, which trades online as Studio.co.uk.

Sports Direct and Findel have also further developed the commercial supply arrangements between Express Gifts and Sports Direct.

“Sports Direct continues to recognise the value and quality of the Findel business, and sees the offer as an opportunity to give increased support to Findel to maximise the value of its existing business,” the stock market announcement read.

“The offer is as an effective way of expanding the commercial arrangements between Sports Direct and Findel, and giving Sports Direct increased exposure to the future growth of the Findel business.”

Sports Direct added that it “intends to work closely with Findel to expand their existing commercial arrangements for the benefit of both companies”.

It also said it had no intention to make any changes to the Findel’s business and the  employment of Findel’s staff and management.

“As such it is expected that there will be no repercussions on employment or the locations of Findel’s places of business, including on the location of Findel’s headquarters and headquarters functions,” Sports Direct said.

Ashley has made no secret about his ambitions to expand Sports Direct, leading the firm through an acquisition spree since 2018.

The company bought House of Fraser and Evans Cycle out of administration, and won a bid to takeover Sofa.com.

He also made a bid to buy HMV out of administration earlier this year, but failed, and shelved his ambitions to acquire Patisserie Valerie.

The firm also has significant stakes in Debenhams and French Connection.

Ashley’s stake in Sports Direct sits at around 61 per cent.

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