// Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group sells entire French Connection stake amid takeover interest
// The firm had a 24.93% stake in French Connection, or 96,612,934 shares
// Frasers Group bought its stake in 2017 as part of a growth plan
Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has sold its almost-25 per cent stake in French Connection after the struggling fashion retailer was targeted by potential buyers.
On Friday, French Connection told investors that it had received two approaches from investment groups looking to complete a takeover.
Shares soared higher on the back of the update, rising by around 65 per cent by Friday afternoon.
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In a new filing this morning, French Connection revealed that Frasers Group – which had been its second-largest shareholder – has now sold its entire 24.93 per cent stake.
Frasers Group, under its previous title of Sports Direct International, bought the stake in 2017 as part of a growth plan which has seen it since buy stakes in brands including Hugo Boss.
It has now sold its holding of 96,612,934 shares, although the move sent French Connection shares higher once again.
Investors are hopeful that the confirmed takeover interest could result in a bidding war for French Connection.
The fashion retailer, which was valued at around £28 million on Monday morning, received one approach from retail investor Spotlight Brands, with backing from restructuring and investment firm Gordon Brothers.
Spotlight has backed British brands like Sweaty Betty, while Gordon Brothers acquired the Laura Ashley brand last year following its administration.
French Connection said it also received another potential proposal from brand investment platform Go Global Retail.
The high street chain was founded by Stephen Marks in 1972 but has seen sales impacted by the turmoil on the high street in recent years, with the Covid pandemic adding to its woes.
In December, French Connection said it had seen “encouraging” sales after some stores were able to reopen, before the latest national lockdown came into force in January.
Shares in French Connection were 15.9 per cent higher at 29.8p in early trading.
with PA Wires