Mike Ashley in bid for control of Debenhams

Mike Ashley

Sports Direct said late on Thursday it has requisitioned a general meeting of Debenhams plc to appoint its CEO Mike Ashley to an executive role on the Debenhams board “and to remove all of the current members of the Debenhams board, other than Rachel Osborne who became a director in September 2018.”

Sports Direct said if appointed to such a role at Debenhams, Ashley would step down as CEO of Sports Direct and be replaced as acting chief executive by Chris Wootton, currently Sports Direct’s deputy chief financial officer.

Sports Direct owns a near 30% stake in Debenhams.

In a stock exchange statement, Sports Direct said: “If Mr Ashley were to be appointed to the board of directors of Debenhams during this business critical period for Debenhams, Mr Ashley would carry out an executive role, and would focus on the Debenhams business, including building a strong board and management team. 

“If appointed, Mr Ashley would step down from his current roles as a director and chief executive of Sports Direct. 

“He would be replaced as acting chief executive by Chris Wootton, currently Sports Direct’s deputy chief financial officer.

“Sports Direct wishes to reassure its shareholders that, if Mr Ashley were to be appointed to the board of Debenhams and step down from his roles at Sports Direct, Sports Direct and Mr Ashley have every confidence that acting chief executive Mr Wootton and the other members of Sports Direct’s board and management team have the necessary expertise to continue to successfully run the Sports Direct business.

“A fuller statement in relation to Sports Direct’s reasons for the requisitioning of a meeting of Debenhams and the proposed appointment of Mr Ashley will follow in due course.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.