Mike Ashley lashes out at advisers to Debenhams

Mike Ashley has lashed out at advisers to department store chain Debenhams after the tycoon’s takeover approach was snubbed, and as he stands to be wiped out in a restructure.

The billionaire Sports Direct owner had been attempting to seize control of Debenhams and install himself as chief executive, but on Thursday the retailer received approval from the majority of its bondholders to press ahead with an alternative £200 million refinancing.

If there were any justice in the world, the majority of the advisers would be put in prison

Mr Ashley released a statement early this morning, saying: “Now the results of the vote are known and we have also been subsequently advised that the supportive HSBC are no longer part of Debenhams’ revolving credit facility, I think that, if there were any justice in the world, the majority of the advisers would be put in prison.”

FTI Consulting has been working with lenders to Debenhams, while KPMG has been advising the retailer itself.

While Debenhams will now embark on a wider restructuring in an effort to secure the future of the business, it is likely to wipe out existing shareholders such as Mr Ashley, who holds a stake of just under 30%.

Debenhams is tipped to look at a debt-for-equity swap and a pre-pack administration, with the latter expected to be more likely as it does not require shareholder approval.

Both options would result in existing investors losing their holdings in the company.

A company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to speed up store closures and rent reductions could also be part of the plans, or come at a later stage.

Only on Wednesday, Mr Ashley, through Sports Direct, said he was considering tabling an offer for Debenhams which would value it at £61.4 million.

But Debenhams has consistently resisted overtures from the billionaire.

Sports Direct said later on Friday that it is giving “further consideration” to Debenhams’ announcement and weighing up its next move.

Shares in Debenhams were trading more than 4% lower at 1.9p in morning trade.

- Press Association

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