How Mike Ashley Ended Up In the Cold On Debenhams Deal

Mike Ashley should have been favourite to take over Debenhams. The pugnacious sportswear billionaire was already its biggest shareholder, while overlaps with other parts of his retail empire gave scope for cost savings, the Financial Times reported. But this week he could only fulminate from the sidelines as creditors of the UK department store group, which traces its history back 240 years, seized control. He described the process, in which lenders put the holding company into a “pre-pack” administration — with a buyer lined up in advance — and promptly sold its assets to themselves, as “a national scandal” that will result in thousands of job losses. But the reality, according to restructuring experts, is that strategic mis-steps left him out in the cold and nursing a £150m loss on his 29.9 per cent investment in Debenhams’ now-worthless equity. Read more