Debenhams Lenders Take Over in Snub to Billionaire Ashley

Debenhams Plc, the 241-year-old U.K. department-store chain that anchors many of the country’s troubled shopping streets, was taken over by lenders after rebuffing a last-minute offer from billionaire Mike Ashley. The retailer entered a form of U.K. insolvency proceedings, handing creditors control and prompting the tycoon to call for the reversal of a process he described as a “national scandal.” Stores employing about 26,000 people will continue to operate as normal, but shareholders’ stakes are now worthless, Bloomberg News reported. The so-called prepackaged administration culminates a months-long battle between Ashley, whose Sports Direct International Plc owned about 30 percent of Debenhams, and lenders seeking to protect their investments in a 720 million-pound ($940 million) debt restructuring. The two sides failed to come to an accord even after Ashley improved a last-ditch proposal to salvage his stake. Administrator FTI Consulting will seek a sale of the company immediately. Read more