Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct Accuses Debenhams of Misleading Investors

Billionaire Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International Plc accused Debenhams Plc’s board of misleading shareholders in its Jan. 10 results ahead of the department-store chain’s profit warning last week, Bloomberg News reported. Sports Direct, which owns about 30 percent of Debenhams, said in a March 4 letter to the retailer’s board that its January earnings report was “at best impossibly optimistic or at worst deliberately misleading.” After Debenhams issued its fourth profit warning since early 2018 the following day, Ashley stepped up his campaign to oust the board and take over management. Beset by Brexit woes and Britain’s desertion of shopping-street retailers, Debenhams has made a series of maneuvers to try to escape insolvency and a lowball takeover by Ashley. While the billionaire has appealed directly to shareholders, a group of Debenhams’s lenders has repeatedly rebuffed his bid to take over as chief executive officer, people familiar with the situation have said. Read more