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SBD Global/February 27, 2013/Finance

Sports Direct Founder Mike Ashley Sells 25 Million Shares Of Own Sports Retail Store Brand

Sports Direct Founder & Deputy Chair Mike Ashley has sold £100M ($152M) worth of his stake, "sending the share price of the group down by almost" 7%, according to Graham Hutson of the LONDON TIMES. Ashley, who also owns Premier League club Newcastle United, sold 25 million shares at 400p each. The move comes only days after Britain’s biggest sporting goods retailer announced a 22.7% rise in profits for the 13 weeks to Jan. 27 to £244.8M ($371M). Sports Direct, which owns Lillywhites stores as well as the Slazenger and Dunlop brands, said that total sales rose 21.2% to £589.5M ($894M). Despite the sale, Ashley still owns 64% of Sports Direct's stock (LONDON TIMES, 2/26). The BBC reported there has been speculation that Ashley "may be interested in making a bid for House of Fraser or the collapsed retailer Republic." But retail analyst Nick Bubb said, "[Mr Ashley] doesn't need the money and if he was intending to bid for retail assets, he would do that through Sports Direct." He added: "I think he's doing it to improve liquidity in the stock", meaning that there will be more shares in wider circulation thereby making the shares easier to buy and sell (BBC, 2/26).
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