Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct among final bidders for Links of London

Links of London Sports Direct Mike Ashley
Sports Direct placed a bid on Links of London despite news that its shareholders are set to rebel at its AGM next month
// Sports Direct among bidders for Links of London
// Mike Ashley is one of 2 final bidders attempting to buy Links from current owner Folli Follie

Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley has reportedly placed a bid on jewellery retailer Links of London.

Ashley is one of two final bidders attempting to buy Links of London from current owner Folli Follie, Sky News reported.

Sports Direct made a presence in the auction despite news that its shareholders are set to rebel at the retailer’s AGM after two proxy advisers recommended investors vote to oust Ashley from the board.

Sports Direct shares have fallen nearly 30 per cent in the last year, leaving it with a market value of £1.35 billion.

The retail group has faced many hurdles in the past year, and most recently lost its stake in Debenhams after the department store chain collapsed into administration and was acquired by lenders.

It also saw auditor Grant Thornton resign after it disclosed a £600 million tax demand from authorities in Belgium.

Sources told Sky News that Ashley was interested in acquiring Links of London as part of his attempt to transform House of Fraser – which he bought out of administration for £90 million last year – into “the Harrods of the high street”.

However, less than a year after acquiring House of Fraser, Ashley labelled its problems as “nothing short of terminal in nature”.

In a delayed set of annual results released last month, Sports Direct said that with “the gift of hindsight we might have made a different decision in August 2018”.

In the last 15 months, Ashley has had a hand in the takeovers of House of Fraser, Evans Cycles, Game Digital, Sofa.com and most recently, Jack Wills.

He has also had offers turned down, most notably HMV and Debenhams.

Links of London is currently owned by struggling Greek company Folli Follie, the group that was fined €20.3 million (£17.4 million) by Greece’s securities regulator for manipulating its 2016 financial statements.

Links of London trades from around 20 standalone stores and a large number of concessions, and is said to be losing upwards of £10 million on sales of just £20 million.

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