Sports Direct has confirmed Mike Ashley has made a sudden disposal of 24,000,000 company shares – 4% of the share capital of firm – worth £204m.
The company revealed the sale to shareholders on the London Stock Exchange, announcing that MASH Holdings Limited, which is wholly owned by Ashley, had disposed of the ordinary shares of 10p each at a price of 850p each.
Following this disposal, MASH Holdings still holds an interest in 345,400,000 ordinary shares of the company.
The Newcastle United owner took The City by surprise by selling the stake in Sports Direct on Monday night, a move made a week after fellow shareholders refused to give him a bonus worth around £73m.
A similar move was made when shareholders blocked his bonus in 2012, at which point he also sold around £200m worth of stock in the business.
However, the company said in the stock exchange statement: “In connection with this disposal, MASH Holdings Limited has agreed not to sell, or otherwise dispose of, any interest in any ordinary shares of the Company, or enter into any transaction having a similar economic effect, for a period of 150 days from April 7 without the consent of Goldman Sachs International who acted as sole bookrunner.”
The sale of the shares from Mash Holdings to Goldman Sachs takes his stake in the business down from 61.7% to 57.5%, and also comes in a week in which financial analysts have been puzzling over the retail tycoon’s involvement in the sale of the department store chain House of Fraser.
Sports Direct gatecrashed the sale of the department store chain by snapping up Sir Tom Hunter’s 11% stake on the eve of a deal to sell the rest of the firm to Chinese conglomerate Sanpower, although the purchase was made by Sports Direct itself and not with Ashley’s personal fortune.
“House of Fraser has noted the share sale by Sir Tom Hunter to Mike Ashley,” a House of Fraser spokesman said.
“We have sent legal letters to both parties, reminding them of the proper procedures to transfer shares, which have not been followed.
“This situation has no impact on our plans to sell to Sanpower Group and we will be making an announcement in due course.”
Reports said that House of Fraser felt that, under pre-emption rights, the stake held by Sir Tom should have been offered to existing company investors before Sports Direct.